Computing graduate Lewis is setting the sky as his limit as he looks forward to the future
Over the next 2 weeks, the Class of 2022 will be celebrating hard work and resilience at their graduation ceremonies. We introduce just a handful of these grads who have made the most of their time at Portsmouth.
Lewis Newton, BSc (Hons) Computing grad will take to the stage on Wednesday 13 July to collect his first-class degree. His story is one of motivation and self-belief after discovering a newfound confidence.
This year, Lewis was chosen to represent the UK at WorldSkills; a worldwide movement which celebrates and improves young people’s skills with set training standards and benchmarking systems. They connect 85 members across the globe including the UK, through competitions and shared best practices.
Lewis met with us to share his achievements and told us about his next steps after graduation.
What has student life been like for you?
Towards the end of college, I started to believe in my abilities and enrolled in a higher education course. I was elated when I was accepted and was told I was eligible for a Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship due to my exam results. This became a turning point for me to keep pushing and improving my confidence.
My student life has been even better than I envisioned. I’ve had access to a great support network, both academically and personally. I enjoyed enriching my studies, participating in student societies events and learning Japanese. Between my second and final year, I worked as a Web Developer on an industrial placement; this helped me apply the skills I learned so far and prepare for my return.
I was given everything I needed to believe in myself and to do my best throughout my time at university. Whilst it was difficult at first to juggle my studies with other commitments, I am so happy to have earned first-class grades in all of my modules. It’s a huge relief for me, especially after the UK’s COVID-19 lockdowns and my lack of confidence before university.
WorldSkills and me
I first got involved with the WorldSkills movement in college when I was offered the chance to compete in the regional heat in Portsmouth. At that point, I had only just begun coding and thought I lacked the capacity to take part, but I decided to give it a go anyway. I was over the moon to have placed first in the event!
From 2018 onwards, I have been training to compete internationally. I’ve taken part in multiple competitions and events inside and outside the UK and placed within the Top 13 in Europe! Since then, I have been training for the ‘Skills Olympics’ held on the global stage. In May, I was selected to join this year’s Team UK at WorldSkills Shanghai 2022.
Unfortunately, the original, planned event was cancelled but WorldSkills Competition 2022 Special Edition is an exciting alternative and a great opportunity. To prepare for it, I participate in WorldSkills UK's competition-based development programme involving pressure tests and training events, for which I am expected to complete a range of web design and development tasks.
While the training is intense, I am so grateful to have learned a wide range of skills throughout my journey. It has given me the strength I need to try new things and push myself further in whatever I put my mind to. I am proud to be given the opportunity to represent my country again and look forward to giving it my all at the Web Technologies competition.
During my time at University, I was chosen to work on 2 research projects with staff and fellow students. My roles involved developing web applications based on statistical models and research in hydrology and psychology. Within the first project, I worked with supervisors to help develop iArsenic, used to aid the assessment of arsenic levels in Bangladeshi tube wells. I contributed to a conference paper on our work which was later published and presented at ICAS 2019 (2nd International Conference on Applied Statistics).
I have recently been told that I have also won the British Computer Society Prize for ‘Best Final Year Student’ and ‘Best Project Student in Computing Prize’. I am so grateful to even have been considered and awarded as I didn’t expect to win anything.
What are your next steps?
While part of me feels sad to be leaving academia, I am excited to start this next chapter of my life doing something that brings me joy. I know it will allow me to continue improving myself and carry on learning in life. I will look back fondly on the past few years of being a student at the University of Portsmouth.
I am most looking forward to applying the knowledge and skills I gained throughout my undergraduate degree and industrial placement year. I will get the chance to put theory into practice in a real working environment again.
The Student Placement and Employability Centre (SPEC) team and Careers and Employability Service have helped me get ready for my graduate career, guiding me through the process of writing a CV and cover letter, and preparing for interviews.
What advice would you give to current students?
Never settle. Do not let yourself take the easiest option and limit your opportunities. You can do anything you put your mind to – give it your all!