And we’re done! Looking back on the University of Portsmouth’s Futures Fund outreach: Student caller and alumni perspectives

Man walking in backpack

Student callers have reached the end of three weeks of inspiring conversations with University of Portsmouth alumni. Now, they reflect on the experience. We hear too, from some of the graduates they called and why they made the decision to give to the Portsmouth Futures Fund and support students.

  • 12 May 2021
  • 10 min read

It’s been three weeks since student callers began reaching out to you and your generosity shows clearly in funds received to the Portsmouth Future’s Fund in support of students facing hardship. Thank you, not just for your donations but for the invaluable career and life advice you offered so willingly to callers.

The end of student calling

A massive thank you to the 1,068 alumni who spoke with student callers over the last three weeks. It has been an incredible experience for them. They gained career and life advice, and heard wonderful stories about your time at the University of Portsmouth.

Alumni have contributed an impressive £85,030 to support students facing hardship – clear evidence of something you already knew. Portsmouth is more than a University, it is a warm and enduring community of support! The money you’ve given will go directly to students who need it most, opening doors to transformational learning experiences and helping ensure all students have the opportunity to reach their potential. 

Here callers share final thoughts about the conversations they’ve had with you, reflecting on what they will take with them and sharing just a few of the special stories they heard. Alumni, too, speak up about what they valued most about speaking with students and what inspired them to donate.

Our telephone callers

Radu Goidescu

Engineering Geology and Geotechnics

Radu Goidescu

From alumni, I’ve learned that no one can predict the future and I should take advantage of any opportunity that's ahead of me.

Radu Goidescu, Engineering Geology and Geotechnics

The most interesting story I heard came from an alumnus who originally did an apprenticeship after finishing his GCSEs and joined Portsmouth for a partnership degree. He is one of the few people who chose this path and wishes more students would be aware of this option too. The biggest piece of advice I received was that university truly is a once in a lifetime experience. I need to throw myself into activities, societies and to not just have friends from my course. Getting involved results in a larger network of people you have access to. Sometimes life can throw curveballs to anyone, therefore it's essential to reframe your thinking and remember we are never given anything we cannot handle. Assess, adapt and keep it moving!

Jakub Budzioch

Digital Business Management

Headshot of Jakub in Old Portsmouth

I have noticed the significant impact our University has on the future careers of its current students and later graduates.

Jakub Budzioch, Digital Business Management

Throughout the campaign, I have learned a lot of new things. The first and most important thing for me is overcoming my shyness in talking to strangers. Now finally, I can freely talk to others via the phone or in real life without much difficulty for a long time. Secondly, I significantly improved my listening and communication skills. Therefore, as a student from Europe, I can recommend this type of work to anyone who would like to improve their English quickly.

The most interesting story that I heard during this fantastic campaign was from my last day shift that I worked. I had a unique opportunity to have a very pleasant conversation with a 70-year-old alumnus who committed almost all her life to helping other people. She started her career in the Royal Navy as a nurse, and for the next 15 years of her service, she travelled much of the world, helping local people who were suffering as a result of various armed conflicts. Then, she came back to Portsmouth to graduate from one of our undergraduate courses in 1995. Our University helped her to find new passions in sociology and European culture. After graduation, she found her place working for the NHS for the rest of her professional career, bringing everyday aid to those who needed it the most. Even now, she loves to travel around the world, and she spends a lot of time speaking with local people to learn about their culture. She summarised our conversation with the following words that she is “very grateful for the opportunity that she could study at our University”. Moreover, she advised me to try to take every opportunity that comes along when you are young, because you never know which one will turn out to be a big success in the future.

After this campaign, I completely understood the importance of having a plan for your future career. Even if you are not quite sure about your choice at the moment, just choose something you like and try to gain valuable knowledge within this topic. That way, even if you change your mind in the future, you have already learned something interesting for you. However, if you genuinely don't know where to start, try making an appointment with one of the experts at the University's Careers and Employability Service.

Karina Twardowska

International Relations and Languages

Selfie of Karina

One of the most important things that I will take from this campaign, is to maintain a positive attitude which in the end will always bring its rewarding results.

Karina Twardowska, International Relations and Languages

I have found the campaign to be an amazing opportunity to improve my communication skills and also to contribute to the great cause of fundraising for the University which will further support its students. Most of the advice that I received from the alumni was to keep saying ‘yes’ to every single opportunity and to keep acquiring new skills because it will open many doors for me in the future.

Miryana Pandeva 


Headshot of Miryana

I enjoyed the campaign as I managed to gain invaluable experience and hear different stories from alumni.

Miryana Pandeva , Law

Although I did not get the chance to speak to Law graduates, I enjoyed my conversations with people successful in the fields of Pharmacy, Software Development, Policing and Business. It was very interesting and I learned a lot from them not only career wise, but for life in general.

In the final two weeks, I had the chance to speak with retired professionals and their stories were very inspiring as they managed to overcome various obstacles in order to achieve their goals. I enjoyed my conversation with a PhD Graduate in Civil Engineering as he was very passionate about his work experience. He told me that he had to take up different job roles throughout the years in order to find the one that made him feel accomplished. It was challenging when my calls weren’t answered as it was difficult to keep my positivity. However, there was always someone special who made me forget this with an inspiring story!

I am extremely proud to be part of the team as we managed to raise more than £80,000 which is amazing! I am thankful to everyone who decided to donate as it will help many students at Portsmouth.

Amanda Nok Andrew

Energy and Power Systems Management

Headshot of Amanda

I was lucky to get the rare opportunity to speak to several alumni in my field as well as other fields.

Amanda Nok Andrew, Energy and Power Systems Management

The campaign has been an amazing experience. Being part of the telephone campaign has given me a boost of confidence in my skills and abilities! It was also a privilege to contribute to an amazing cause like the Portsmouth Futures Fund, as well as the other funding initiatives that have been a great support for students like myself.

Our alumni

Rev. Peter Marks

BA, BSc, FRICS (retired), HEd.DipMus., HEdDip.Theology, FHEAcad

I was inspired to donate because Portsmouth gave me a chance I never thought I would have, and the local authority grant made it possible.

Rev. Peter Marks, BSc Quantity Surveying, 1976

I was a mature student at what was Portsmouth Polytechnic, studying on a 4-year sandwich CNAA BSc degree course in Quantity Surveying from October 1972, and graduating in July 1976. The degree programme was accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) as a means of becoming a chartered quantity surveyor, following an approved period of professional practice.

Initially, I was somewhat daunted to realise that at the ripe old age of 28, I was 10 years older than just about anyone else on the course. However, I soon felt at home both with my fellow students, who were helpful and friendly, and with the lecturing staff on the programme who greatly encouraged me, and gave me every help.

I very much enjoyed the phone call with the student who rang me. It was interesting for me to realise that he is from Jordan, a country I worked in from April 1982 until September 1983, based on the new Amman International Airport project, commissioned by King Hussain. A most interesting and enjoyable experience.

I did not give the student caller any particular advice but, as someone who benefitted the way I did from my course at Portsmouth, who went on to become a course leader in three different universities, I would say never lose faith in yourself, keep up to date with the work and advice you are given, and fly.

I am aware that there are probably many potential students in the situation where the abolition of the grant system meant they could never take the opportunities that Portsmouth offered to me.

Nigel Abbott

My advice to Charlie was to make sure he makes the most of his time, study hard but also play hard as I still look at my time as some of the best years of my life.

Nigel Abbott, BA (Hons) Geography, 1985

The call with the student named Charlie was very interesting and thought-provoking. Even though I have a 20 year old daughter, Jenna based at home studying Psychology at St Mary’s, Twickenham and have another daughter, 17 year old Krista likely to go York to study Chemistry either this year or next, it was great to hear from a current student who is studying where I did. It took me back to those fun days and in many ways, I feel quite sorry for all students having to study through the pandemic given the major impact this has had on everyone’s experience of University life.

We discussed where I lived in my time down in Pompey which did not comprise halls but instead was a bed and breakfast and two flats in my first year, a flat in the second year and then a house in my third year. I also mentioned that I was (and still are when we are able to) ten-pin bowler and was President of the Polytechnic Bowling Club in my final year. I also said how I am a former ‘world record holder’, having been the only first year student in a team of 6 that did a 24 hour bowling marathon for charity in March 1986, and we broke the then existing world record with 6 minutes to spare. I bowled 46 games!

We also chatted a bit about my job as a town planning consultant and I currently work for Tetra Tech Limited (formerly known as WYG) but have worked for a number of different consultancies, having started in a local council, Stroud, in 1989. I mentioned that I was involved in a pretty high profile ‘planning case’, the ‘stripey house’ in Kensington in 2015. I acted for the neighbour objecting to a lady who, because she was very disappointed with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea for refusing her planning application to convert or demolish and rebuild an old warehouse into a luxury home with double basement including a swimming pool, she decided to paint the front of her property in red and white stripes like a huge deckchair. This made the news in the Evening Standard and local TV news and was even the subject of a Channel 4 documentary, “Posh Neighbours at War'' (Charlie found it on You Tube). There is a fleeting glimpse of me in the programme sitting next to our client’s barrister in the Council Chamber at the town hall participating in the 4 day public inquiry and giving evidence.

My inspiration for donating was to help put something back into the university where I had such a good time all those years ago. I am very pleased in some small way I can help assist those who do not have enough themselves to study readily.

Thank You

Thank you again to all of you who have given to support Portsmouth students facing hardship. Your contributions will change the lives of students and help ensure that everyone attending this University has a once in a lifetime experience.

Find out more about opportunities to support students.