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Published: 28 April 2017

Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Awards winners honoured

Saudi academic Dr Lina Hammad has been named as the alumna of the year for 2016 for her inspirational work as dean of the only female university in the kingdom, empowering and encouraging staff and students to succeed and use their knowledge to help and educate society.

In our 50th anniversary year, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Max Lu, introduced new awards to further recognise the tremendous impact our alumni have around the world, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, Alumni Achievement Awards, Young Achiever Awards and Volunteers of the Year.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Alumnus/Alumna of the Year Award is presented annually to a graduate who has made an outstanding contribution to their field or to society during the previous three years.

This week, Dr Hammad, joined us for the awards presentation evening from Saudi Arabia, along with eight of our winners, three of whom had travelled from Australia and China.

Dr Hammad, who graduated with an MSc in Medical Physics in 1983, is the first Saudi female graduate from King Saud University (Radiological Sciences) and the first Saudi female holder of an MSc and PhD in medical physics. She is the Dean of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Princess Nourah University.

She has established two units that will increase female empowerment and volunteer work; ‘The Innovation Unit’ encourages students and academic staff to work on innovations for medical problems and apply for patency.  ‘The Society Initiatives Unit’ collaborates with different institutes outside the university for community benefit.

These initiatives have taught students the importance of using the knowledge gained to help and educate society. Lina believes that the journey for the young Saudi female is long and full of challenges and hopes her work will empower young Saudi women and facilitate knowledge transfer to a large portion of them.

Lina said: “I was very delighted to hear this lovely news; it is an honour to receive this prestigious award.”

We are delighted to announce that Odaline de la Martinez FRAM is the inaugural winner of our Lifetime Achievement Award.

Miss de la Martinez, who graduated with a MMus in 1977, has been recognised for her high-profile international career as conductor, composer, and record producer across five decades, including becoming the first female conductor at the BBC Proms. She is also trustee of the Mornington Trust, working with disadvantaged children and minority communities.

She said: “I was delighted, honoured, humbled and surprised to receive this award.”

The calibre of nominations was as high as ever, showcasing the exceptional work of our alumni across the globe. The Alumni Achievement Award recognises a graduate who has made a significant impact in his or her field or to society in general. The winners are Australian academic Dr Y Gavriel Ansara (MSc Psychology 2009, PhD Psychology 2014) for his outstanding contribution to policies and standards around international human rights and social justice; Polly Risbridger (BA Dance and Culture 2002) for the development of arts, culture and performance as director of East London Dance; and Dr Kathleen McGuire (MMus Music 1995), for her major choral works and her international reputation in social justice and human rights.

The Young Achiever Award recognises a graduate who has achieved early career success or community service and is a role model for students and younger alumni. Our 2016 winners are Dr Tao Wang (PhD Physics) for his early academic success, including more than 50 papers in high profile journals and the prestigious Thousand Talent Professorship in China; secondary schoolteacher Kanayo Phoebe Dike-Oduah (BSc Psychology 2015) who is an inspirational role model for her students and community and won a Women for Africa Award in May 2016; and Lee Reynolds (BMus 2007) for his significant impact as conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, as musical director for Glyndebourne Youth Orchestra and for his mentorship of young musicians.

The University is pleased to recognise four alumni for the Volunteer of the Year Award, which recognises graduates who have made a significant commitment to Surrey, acting as an ambassador and inspiring students, staff and other alumni. Our UK winners are Janet Preston (BSc Physics 1978, MSc Physics 2015), who has volunteered in a variety of roles for many years as student mentor, careers advisor, Faculty advisory board member and member of the Annual Fund disbursement Committee; and Lewis Young (LLB Law 2012) who acts as an open day ambassador and supports the School of Law in its alumni activities.

Our International Volunteers of the Year are Jincheng ‘Jaycee’ Feng and Lynal Low, who both graduated with a BSc in Tourism Management in 2013. They are exemplary ambassadors in Singapore, volunteering at student recruitment events and receptions. Both Jaycee and Lynal received their awards from the Vice-Chancellor during his visit to Singapore last month.

Professor Lu said: “It is truly inspiring to learn of the achievements of so many of our alumni who have excelled in their professional lives, enjoyed entrepreneurial success or significantly given back to society.”

Full interviews will be published with all of our winners, so watch out on our website and in the annual Forever Surrey magazine in July.

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