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Our volunteers play a crucial role in inspiring the next generation of University of Portsmouth alumni, offering invaluable support, direction and connections. This gifted time can change lives.

To celebrate Volunteer’s Week, held last week between 1–7 June, we spoke to one of our alumni volunteers to share his journey and motivations to make a difference and give back.

John-Paul McGarry has studied both his undergraduate degree and postgraduate diploma at University of Portsmouth; most recently, finishing his Masters degree in MSc Human Resource Management. Throughout his studies, he has given his time to volunteer with the university to inspire the next generation of Portsmouth alumni.

He says the following:

“I have grown up in Portsmouth and have always worked within the city. I didn’t attend University at the ‘natural age’, instead I started my university education as a mature student. If it weren’t for University of Portsmouth, I would never have achieved my current role as HR Business Partner at BAE Systems. They helped me directly, so I wanted to give back.

I started as an alumni volunteer seven years ago by offering a hand at Open Days, also submitting a career profile that shared my career journey. I find it an honour to be able to help where I can.

My favourite memory of volunteering and one that has stayed with me was when I supported a recruitment event, my past lecturer was discussing further education to attendees; she looked at me from across the table and

asked for my input and feedback on the course. The shift of lecturer/student relationship to that of peers was great. I felt a huge sense of pride, like I’d really grown. I’d been on a journey and was now working alongside my lecturers instead of being taught by them.

The social aspect is also great; being able to reconnect with lecturers and course members and catching up since University. At this point in my life, volunteering is not necessarily about gaining skills; but instead about giving something back.

University of Portsmouth has helped me to grow as a person, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. I find it an absolute honour helping and also enjoy building relations with all involved from staff to students.

Everyone volunteers for different reasons but for me, giving back and not expecting back is the best quality to have.”