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Issue 09 – Summer 2015

University of Wolverhampton alumni magazine

FORTUNES IN HARMONY Graduate vocal trio, Miss Fortunes A PICTURE PAINTS A THOUSAND TWEETS Our latest world-leading research YOUR VOICE. YOUR SAY. Alumni perception survey results




Postgraduate Open Evenings Wednesday 16 September 2015 Thursday 26 November 2015 (5pm - 7.30pm) For more information and to register: email:

The University of Opportunity


Life. At Wolverhampton. After Wolverhampton. For Life. Welcome to the Summer 2015 edition of WLV Life – the magazine for graduates of the University of Wolverhampton. In this edition we bring you a gentle blend of past, present and future. Creating one of the most attractive front covers in the magazine’s history (if we do say so ourselves) are three faces who may already be familiar to you. Vocal harmony trio, Miss Fortunes, are rapidly becoming the must have sign-up act in the region, and we talk to them about what it’s like “bringing all the glamour of a bygone era in a new old-fashioned way” (page 11). We also catch up with graduate, and former Volunteer of the Year winner, Victorine Ngamsha, about her charity work abroad since we last featured her back in 2012 (page 15), and as the University prepares to welcome back the study of economics into its course portfolio, we talk to economics graduate, Mike Lever, in our new regular feature, AlumLights (page 10). Also this year, we returned to the House of Lords in London, this time going back to the University’s roots with the launch of the Wolverhampton School of Art, originally established back in 1851 (page 8).

Contributor: Lydia Robinson

Looking to the future, we get warm and fuzzy feelings about the latest world-leading research from Professor Mike Thelwall on sentiment analysis (page 19), and we proudly unveil the University’s plans for a ground-breaking new investment programme that aims to generate an eye-watering £250 million (page 5). With all the latest alumni and University news, you’ll be sure to find something of interest. Amy Roberton Editor, Alumni Relations Manager Keep in touch! Are your details correct? Update them online at: You can also contact us with any news, updates or enquiries you may have at: Alumni & Development University of Wolverhampton, MX Building, Camp Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1AD Email: Tel: +44 (0)1902 323 056 /wlvalumni @wlv_alumni


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Alumni noticeboard News and events


02 04 05 08 11 14

In the news

19 22 24

Research focus: Mike Thelwall

19 Touching hearts Victorine Ngamsha


My life in TV journalism Álvaro Moreno de la Santa

What’s been happening at your University?

Your Voice. Your Say

The results of the alumni perception survey are in.

Our Vision, Your Opportunity

The University’s exciting new plans to generate £250 million investment.

Art in the nation’s capital

We launch the Wolverhampton School of Art at the House of Lords.

Graduate feature: Miss Fortunes Fortunes in harmony.

Business Achievement Awards 2015 Who were our Alumni of the Year?

A picture paints a thousand tweets.


International news

Celebrating multiculturalism at Wolverhampton.

My life

Álvaro Moreno de la Santa.

WLV Life Summer 2015



In the news... Here’s a small selection of the University’s leading headlines from the past few months.


MP impressed by business start-up scheme

The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP visited the University to highlight social enterprise and congratulate the success of our graduate business start-up scheme, SPEED Plus. Led by the University’s Enterprise Department, the programme has supported 200 graduates so far, resulting in 138 new jobs and 86 new businesses.



Wolverhampton graduate wins New Art West Midlands prize


Kathleen Fabre, a fine art graduate, has been named as one of New Art West Midlands’ competition winners which saw her scoop a top prize of £1,000. Kathleen’s exhibit was launched on Friday 13 February and displayed until Sunday 17 May at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham.

New £300,000 pharmacy teaching facility opens

A new £300,000 teaching facility at the University of Wolverhampton has opened. It aims to equip the pharmacists of tomorrow with hands-on experience and create a stimulating, multi-functional learning environment. Refurbished facilities at City Campus Molineux now feature eight clinical bays, including simulated patients to enable one-to-one interaction in a real learning situation.



Dance student Sophie Webb recently achieved second place in 2014’s World 10 Dance Champions for her talents in ballroom dancing. The World 10 championship requires competitors to dance in ten different Latin and ballroom dance styles. Sophie and her dance partner have received over 100 medals and trophies.


Chancellor Lord Paul gifts £1 million to the University

The Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, the Rt Hon Lord Paul of Marylebone, PC has donated £1 million. The gift is the largest in the University’s history and was made by the Ambika Paul Foundation, a charitable trust set up by Lord Paul in memory of his daughter. The donation will be used to enhance the student experience.

The University has been praised for the quality of its teaching and learning following an audit by education watchdogs, The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). The report highlights areas of good practice, such as initiatives to raise aspirations and achievement for students, and the University’s commitment to enhancing their employment prospects. In particular we were commended for our enhancement of student learning opportunities which covers quality of the teaching, resources available and overall academic support.


Student dancer reaches world championship final



Wolverhampton has worldleading research

Research at the University is at its highest ever level according to an assessment of all UK universities activity. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) evaluates the quality and impact of research at UK universities across all disciplines. In the 06 REF 2014, the University put forward more staff and more subjects areas than in previous years, with each one deemed to have elements of world-leading quality.

University praised by education watchdogs

University of Wolverhampton just the job for graduates

The University’s employability rates are at a record-high, with 95% of students who graduated in 2014 going on to work or further study after leaving. The results came out of the annual Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey which is a national audit of everyone who has recently graduated from university or HE college in the UK. The survey also highlighted how the University is supporting the regional economy, with 81% of graduates working in the West Midlands, and 66% going on to work in graduate level jobs.


University racing team celebrates first place

The University of Wolverhampton Racing Team took to the winner’s podium for the first time in June at the famed Silverstone race circuit. The team, made up of a combination of University engineering students and staff as well as professional staff, took first place at the ongoing 2015 Mono2000 Championships. Driven by pro-driver Shane Kelly, the Formula Renault car took first against a field of 58 cars on the Saturday, and also took sixth place in Sunday’s race. The team now sits in fourth place in the championships, with further outings at the likes of Brands Hatch, Donington Park and Spa in Belgium.


Alumni noticeboard Catch up on all the latest news from your alumni community.

Spring graduation This April, we were delighted to hold our spring graduation ceremonies at the Grand Theatre for postgraduate students, and undergraduate students from the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing. Over 800 students commemorated their successes over two days of celebration.

Alumni tours We’ve run a number of alumni tours at our Wolverhampton City Campus, much to the delight of alumni from the ’70s to the ’90s. The tours have offered graduates the chance to reminisce about old lecture rooms, places they used to meet with friends, and visit the Halls of Residence. A recent alumni tour saw an alumnus from Turkey return to the University while visiting the UK. He was absolutely delighted to see how much the campus had advanced and couldn’t resist a quick look at his old haunt - Randall Lines! Another tour saw the reunion of BA Modern Languages class of ’77. They were keen to see how the University, and particularly MB Building, had changed in 38 years and were shocked to discover the building their lectures were held in is now the new Rosalind Franklin Science Building. If you are interested in an alumni tour, email:

Graduate Intern of the Year Awards This May saw the annual Employment and Volunteering Awards 2015. University graduates are given the opportunity to gain employment in the University, taking up intern roles in a variety of departments. We’d like to congratulate award winners Emily Collins (Graduate Intern Award) and Caitlin Sankey (Graduate Placement Award).

India alumni lunch During a recent trip to India to strengthen University ties, one of the events held was an alumni lunch at Leela Palace in New Delhi. Indian alumni from the University attended the lunch and shared their stories of what they have been doing posteducation.

Malaysia alumni dinner We also travelled to Malaysia where an alumni dinner led by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Geoff Layer, was held at St Giles the Gardens Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. The event was held in conjunction with the University’s partnerships conference, Bringing Education to the World.

WLV Life Summer 2015


Survey Results

Your voice

Your say

With a fantastic 800 of you completing our recent Alumni Perception Survey, we’ve heard loud and clear what you – our alumni – think about your University and the WLV Alumni Association.

Here are some of the things you said, some things you may not know, and some things we are going to do in response to your comments.

What you said

Did you know?

51% said you feel only moderately or somewhat connected to the University.

We are a launching a brand new WeLoVe Alumni Association this September to help all our graduates feel a greater sense of connection to the University.

63% of you are not aware of the benefits available to you as a graduate.

We have a wide range of benefits available to you after you graduate that you can read about at:

51% of you want discounts off further study.

You can receive 20% off some taught postgraduate courses as a graduate. Find out more:

48% of you want access to the University’s library facilities.

We’re working with Library Services to introduce a graduate ID card that will give you access to some campus facilities, including our libraries.

63% of you want alumni events aimed more at professional development.

We’re working with teams across the University to offer professional development workshops and more guest lectures with key industry figures.

Your preferred method of receiving news and updates is by email and our monthly WLV@lumni e-newsletter.

You can join our WLV@lumni and email mailing list by updating your details at:

79% said you would be interested in volunteering your time to supporting the University.

We offer a wide range of volunteering opportunities, including student mentoring. Find out more and register at:


Our Vision, Your Opportunity Our new programme aims to generate £250 million of investment Growth has been at the heart of the University of Wolverhampton since its founding institutes were first established in 1827. Geographical expansion across regional and national borders; evolution in course provision and teaching; an ever-increasing student body from both home and abroad; and a sustained ethos to widen accessibility to higher education for all – all of these key developments represent almost 200 years of growth and progress for a University dedicated to providing others with their own opportunities to grow and succeed. It is a vision that has given us a heritage to be proud of, and the same vision that continues to drive

us forward today as the University of Opportunity. Our Vision, Your Opportunity is the University’s most significant investment programme to date. Upholding our focus on growth, and our deep-rooted mission to provide educational opportunities for all, the plan to generate £250 million of investment aims to raise the University to its greatest ever position of strength – investing in education, training, and economic development within the region. While the programme in part includes physical growth through the construction of new buildings and campus sites, it ultimately aims to generate growth in

a much broader sense, encompassing student numbers, income, student experience and satisfaction, and growth in the local and regional economy. The ambitious plan will be the focus of the University for the next five years and will impact across all areas of activity – enhancing not only our reputation as a student-focused university, but also our contribution to global research; our influence in enriching the enterprise and employability of the region’s labour force; and our dedication to innovation and forward-thinking. Turn over to read about our projects already underway... WLV Life Summer 2015



Springfield Campus

Flagship Projects Springfield Campus

Investment: £65 million (jointly funded) Due to open in September 2016, a new ‘super-campus’ for the study of construction and the built environment is being developed at the former Springfield Brewery in Wolverhampton city centre. It will become the new teaching site for the University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, and will also be home to the West Midlands Construction UTC (University Technical College), which the University is sponsoring along with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The redevelopment will include a sympathetic repair and refurbishment of the Grade II listed building so as to preserve the history of the city’s own built environment.

have been equipped with Dell Venue 11 Pro tablets, making Wolverhampton one of the first universities in the UK to be using high numbers of tablets in a science environment.

The Lord Swraj Paul Building Investment: £18 million

Opening in October this year, a new Business School is currently under construction which will change the landscape of City Campus Molineux and become the new hub for business engagement throughout the region.

Engineering at Telford Innovation Campus Investment: £12 million

The Rosalind Franklin Building Investment: £25 million

Opened in 2014, the brand new sixstorey building provides a state-of-the-art facility located at City Campus Wulfruna dedicated to the study and advancement of science within the region. Students benefit from pioneering hi-tech labs that

Telford Innovation Campus is set to be transformed with the introduction of new advanced facilities that will enhance the University’s range of engineering courses to include automotive and motorsport engineering, chemical engineering and electronic and telecommunications engineering. The development is part of the University’s response to the regional

and national shortage of qualified engineering graduates, and will introduce specialist equipment including a design and visualisation facility, a Formula 1 specification wind tunnel, engine test facilities, 3D printing facilities and laboratories dedicated to electronics and telecommunications, metrology and materials testing.

The Digital Campus Investment: c.£10 million

As technology advances, the digital campus is just as important as the physical campus. The University’s plans for a ‘digital campus’ will impact on every aspect of the University experience for both students and staff – recruiting students, improving the classroom experience, the delivery of courses and services, and the accessibility of information, tools and resources. Projects underway include a single sign-on student portal, digital storage, off-campus access to digital services and business intelligence.


The Rosalind Franklin Building

We see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest and grow. We have more students than ever, our research is at its highest ever-level with all areas having world class aspects, our business engagement is at its highest ever level, graduate employment rates are booming (94%) and our learning and teaching has been praised and commended by the Quality Assurance Agency. These are ambitious plans but we are confident and serious about the future. The Lord Swraj Paul Building

Professor Geoff Layer Vice-Chancellor

Telford Innovation Campus

WLV Life Summer 2015

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Art in the nation’s capital Celebrating its heritage and vision, we launch the revitalised Wolverhampton School of Art at the House of Lords. The University returned to the House of Lords in April this year as part of a calendar of activities to launch the new Wolverhampton School of Art. The prestigious occasion was hosted by the Chancellor of the University, the Rt Hon Lord Paul of Marylebone, PC and welcomed artists and key figures from the creative industries. International ambassadors, government officials, and University graduates and students also joined us to celebrate our 200-year history of art. Held as part of the University’s monthlong launch programme, ArtsFest, the event formed the ‘London Launch’ of the Wolverhampton School of Art. Showcasing specially commissioned, bespoke glasswork by third year student, Tim Boswell, the evening provided a high-profile platform for the University to announce future plans including: creating links with the arts industry within the capital city; opening doors to student and graduate work placements; and creating opportunities for original work to be exhibited.


School of Art Est.


Originally established in 1851, and now revitalised through the University’s pioneering vision, the Wolverhampton School of Art holds the fundamental, modern facilities required by budding artists who seek careers in the industry. Laying claim to current associations with Turner Prize nominees, world-leading architect Charles Wheeler, and fashion illustrator David Downton, the School is not short of established alumni, who are well-known names in the art industry. For more information about the Wolverhampton School of Art, visit:


WLV Life Summer 2015


Graduate Feature Career

Name: Mike Lever Degree: BA (Hons) Economics, 1992 Job: Director, New Training Results Why did you choose Economics? “I always enjoyed Economics so decided to follow it to degree level and I chose Wolverhampton because of a recommendation I received about the good reputation of the Business School. After a visit and interview, I soon found myself moving to the Midlands from the South!” What did you most enjoy about the course ? “As I graduated in 1992, the Macroeconomics was fascinating given the events that were occurring in the world at the time - especially Europe with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the debates around a single European currency.”

How has your degree helped in your career? “Economics is a much respected degree and I’ve always been able to make a positive impression with the variety of modules I was able to study. My time at Wolverhampton also helped me to learn, to see, and to understand, an opposing view to my own. I realised that solutions to challenges are rarely black and white and this shift in my thinking has been, and continues to be, priceless.” What does your job involve? “There are two main elements of my job – the trainer role and the director in the business. As a trainer, I have to understand where a client is in terms of their skills, behaviours and knowledge, and then where they want to be. This requires a lot of curiosity reflected in the conversations we have. Then there’s the design stage which includes research and development. As a director, the role is strategic – the strategic direction of the company and the actions needed to deliver it.”

What’s your greatest achievement? “In 2013, I won the British Excellence in Sales & Marketing Award for Sales Trainer of the Year, which involved some great PR for me and I’m now about to take up my first non-executive director post for an accountancy firm. On top of that, I speak at events across the country, with a keynote speech on the Psychology of Consumer Behaviour.” Would you recommend Economics? “Absolutely, it’s perfect for anyone looking to go into any business role simply because of the critical thinking aspect.”

Want to be an AlumLight? Contact the Alumni team at: or visit:

Graduate Feature

Fortunes in harmony As the nation celebrated the 70th anniversary of VE Day in May 2015, we met the West Midlands’ sweethearts who are making a name for themselves in a ‘new old-fashioned way’. Miss Fortunes are a female vocal harmony trio, comprising Miss Read, Miss Treat and Miss Chief – also known as Beth Berwick-Lowe, Rian Harris and Jen Lali – who provoke memories of a bygone age with their vintage-inspired performances and eclectic outfits. This year’s VE Day celebrations have led to a number of performance opportunities at 1940s-themed events, but over the past couple of years the group has brought their distinct retro sound and style to venues and events around the country.

“The name Miss Fortunes is a play on words – it’s sweet but has an edge,” says Jen. Rian goes on to explain: “We decided to call Beth Miss Treat because she’s sweet and innocent, but has a sting in her tail! The name Miss Chief was fitting for Jen because she means business and keeps the other Misses in order, but has a mischievous streak. Miss Read has a double meaning – I’m the redhead of the group and have a habit of being misunderstood!”

WLV Life Summer 2015


Graduate Feature

Boogie woogie beginnings Rian and Jen, both alumna of the University, met while they completed their degrees in Primary Education. Their friendship and passion for music blossomed from there. “We were at the Wolverhampton-based Embraced Burlesque show, and decided that because we always liked singing and performing, we could put on an act that was very cabaret and befitting of a burlesque show,” says Rian. “There were a lot a rockabilly folk with vintage attire, quiffs and tattoos; we thought if we brought ‘vintage’ to the act, we could cater to them too.” With Jen being a bright blonde and Rian a fiery redhead, their aim was to add a brunette sister to the pack. “A couple of months later, we were singing karaoke in the pub where Beth worked. We noticed she was a brunette, and could sing, so we decided to invite her into the fold with an offer she couldn’t refuse – the rest is history!” exclaims Jen. With new recruit Beth added to the lineup, the girls began to perform as a trio.

“Our first gig was a 70th birthday party,” Beth remembers. “We were a little nervous performing together for the first time, but as soon as we began to sing, we knew what we were doing was great.” Jen says: “We’ve been performing together for two years now, and it’s gone from strength to strength – singing together is just natural.” Influences through the ages The glamorous Miss Fortunes treat audiences to a song repertoire ranging from the 1920s to present day, including renditions of: Rum and Coca Cola, Rock Around the Clock, Needle in a Haystack and I Wanna be Like You. With wellknown songs for every age group, the Miss Fortunes encourage audience singalongs. “We put on a performance worthy of an audience’s attention,” says Jen. “Audiences tell us we are great to watch and we have fun - we don’t take ourselves too seriously and aren’t afraid to laugh at ourselves.” “We cater to everyone; we all have our own icons,” says Beth. “Jen likes Imelda

May and Rian likes Nancy Sinatra, Connie Francis and old school jazz types; I prefer Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and musical theatre types.” Beth continues: “We don’t tie ourselves down to anything specific harmony-wise; everything is in three-part harmony but sometimes we each take the lead on a particular song and we love the close harmonies in songs by the Andrews Sisters from the 1940s. Fashion-wise, we love the 1950s dresses with petticoats; the 1940s wartime fashion was more subdued.” Despite their various music and fashion influences, Miss Fortunes pride themselves on their uniqueness. Rian explains: “We are inspired by the Puppini Sisters but we are individual in our own right. Some people stick to ’40s songs, but we’re different because we sing a mixture from every decade; our repertoire list has over 90 songs!” “We love you Fortunes, we do!” Miss Fortunes are now expanding from their regional roots. They are the resident act at Detroit’s Diner in Worcester, and weekends have seen them travelling

Graduate Feature

nationally as far as Yorkshire to perform at a variety of events. “We’ve done Motown nights, pub gigs, tea parties and vintage fairs – it means we are able to perform a range of musical genres. We do a real mix which keeps it fresh,” explains Rian. “One weekend we travelled over 350 miles in 24 hours!” says Beth. With the act travelling nationwide to perform profile-raising gigs, they have unsurprisingly started to receive attention from fans in the street. “I’ve been stopped by people whilst walking in the park, who’ve told me that they’ve seen us perform,” says Rian. “We’ve been asked to sign our CDs for people to send to their relatives across the world,” adds Beth. Rian recalls some of the group’s most notable performances – and audiences! She says: “We sang for the Mayor once – that was lovely and very memorable. We were also asked to perform at the National Hairdressers’ Federation Awards in Edgbaston. “One night that is memorable for me was at The Dog and Doublet’s ‘Plug and Play’ night, where a group of football fans started chanting, ‘We love you Fortunes, we do!’” Last Christmas, Miss Fortunes were the opening act for Gareth Gates at the Wednesbury Christmas lights switch-on. Jen laughs: “When he came off stage, we seized the opportunity to grab a photo with him – and tell him that he’d missed our performance!” We’ll meet again Although they are enjoying the current position they find themselves in (which is far from misfortunate!), Miss Fortunes are looking forward to achieving more goals in the future. Every artist has somebody they’d love to meet or perform for – Miss Fortunes all state at the exact same moment that their dream performance would be on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny.

“That would be the dream! We’d love advice from someone as well-established and respected as Jools,” the girls explain.

“I’m really proud of how far we’ve come in such a short space of time,” says Beth, as all the girls smile.

Rian states another ambition is to perform at Birmingham Symphony Hall. “The acoustics in there are amazing. It would be amazing to be able to play there with a band - it would be a fantastic experience.”

“We don’t have a set audience that we enjoy performing for; we just like to sing for people who want to listen.” For more information on Miss Fortunes, visit:

The success of Miss Fortunes has escalated more than they could have imagined in the space of two years. Taking each day as it comes, the friends hope to continue enjoying their singing career and that it goes from strength to strength.

WLV Life Summer 2015



Business Achievement Awards 2015 Last month, the University was delighted to host the second Business Achievements Awards, celebrating success in business and industry within the region, and honouring the impact of our graduates in business today. A total of seven awards were presented at the evening event which took place at Molineux Stadium and award categories for alumni were Alumnus of the Year: Leadership and Alumnus of the Year: Contribution to Society.

Here are the winners: Alumnus of the Year: Leadership Recognises an alumnus who has made an impact to a business through their leadership skills.

Winner: Ian Powell, Chairman and Senior Partner of UK firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (Economics, 1977). Runners-up: Former MP, Mike Foster (Economics, 1984), and Jaguar executive, Jo Lopes (Applied Sciences, 1986).

Alumnus of the Year: Contribution to Society

Recognises an alumnus who has made an exemplary contribution to society. Winner: Lisa Potts-Webb, founder of children’s charity, Believe to Achieve (DipHE Nursing, 2013). Runners-up: Jack Guishard (Medical Science, 2014) and Victorine Ngamsha (Business Information Systems, 2012).

Graduate Feature

Touching hearts A business start-up that touches the hearts of others. A story that will touch yours.

“It is possible; if I can do it then you can do it.” For motivational speaker Victorine Ngamsha, if there is just one sentence that she wants the women and children of Africa who listen to her to remember, it is this one. While some may consider it simply another soundbite typical of motivational speeches, when you hear Victorine’s story of growing up, you not only understand why she says it but, more importantly, you realise that she truly believes it.

“When I completed my primary education at 11-years old, my mother presented me with a gardening tool,” recalls Victorine. “She was unable to afford to pay for my secondary education and that meant I had very few options available to me – my future life was literally handed to me.”

It is no exaggeration to say that Victorine’s childhood was harrowing. Growing up in Cameroon in extreme poverty, she lost six siblings and witnessed her younger sister die from malnutrition, was subjected to brutal violent attacks, and at the age of nine stood helpless as her mother was nearly murdered after being branded a witch.

“I refused to be limited by others and decided to travel for miles on foot, determined to find people who could help me achieve my dream of receiving an education,” says Victorine. “It took nearly 20 years, but in 2001 I was able to move to the UK and after saving enough money to fund myself through University, I graduated from Wolverhampton in 2012 with a BA (Hons) Business Information Systems.”

Given the horrors she had already experienced at such a young age, it would’ve been understandable if she had simply accepted that as the way it had to be – but she didn’t.

WLV Life Summer 2015


Graduate Feature

Graduate Feature

Charity begins at home It is hardly surprising that, given her childhood experiences, a passion for helping others lies at the very heart of Victorine. Her tireless volunteering efforts at Wolverhampton, which included a placement at The Haven women and children’s refuge, won her Volunteer of the Year in 2011; however, it was after graduating that she was able to really begin making an impact. With the support of the University’s business start-up programme SPEED Plus, Victorine launched VVL Extended Hands – an outreach enterprise dedicated to inspiring and supporting women and children in the same situation she once was. With her attention focused on Africa, the decision of where to start her efforts was easy: her home country of Cameroon. “At the start I wanted to concentrate predominantly on offering motivational speaking, training, and life coaching,” explains Victorine. “My aim was to touch the hearts of those demotivated, and try to inspire them with practical and personal examples of my true life story.” Returning to the place that held so many difficult memories was a brave step for Victorine, but she especially wanted to reach out to the children in the communities she once was part of. She says: “My first project was delivering motivational talks at seven primary schools across the North West region, and it was a very proud moment to watch the children react to my story and see the hope it was giving them. I was very moved by all the people I met.” So moved, in fact, that she decided to do more. Embarking on a new mission, Victorine took charity into her own hands, organising a mass collection back in the UK and donating writing materials to the schools, toys and clothes to an orphanage, and laundry essentials for the women of the communities. VVL Extended Hands was officially up and running.

Education for all Improving access to education for the children of Africa is also high on Victorine’s agenda. “The hardest challenge for children in Africa is gaining an education. Most families cannot pay to send their children to school, which straightaway means their prospects are limited,” explains Victorine. “I wanted to do whatever I could to make it easier for them.” The result was one of Victorine’s greatest achievements. Co-ordinating a massive recycling initiative back in the UK, she shipped thousands of books and computer equipment to Kumbo where she grew up, leading to the launch of the Kikaikelaki Community Library – the first and only library in the community, available to all. “It was very exciting for me and all the people of Kumbo,” says Victorine. “The launch ceremony was attended by government officials and dignitaries, including members of the Royal family of Nso, as well as high profile Cameroon music artists and religious leaders. It has been such a successful initiative that plans for a second library, this time in Shisong, are already underway.” Victorine has also created a series of VVL Exercise Books, designed with motivational words on the back covers to inspire children to learn. They are available in Cameroon shops to help reduce the cost of education for parents. Extending her reach The scope of Victorine’s voluntary efforts has not only extended across communities within Africa, but also a variety of different causes. The empowerment of women is close to her heart and VVL Extended Hands has launched outreach programmes in Douala, Kumbo and Yaoundé to help women in the poorest sections of the community work together to alleviate poverty. Projects have also focused on rescuing women off the streets of Douala, as well as supporting women struggling to integrate into stable city life.

She says: “After witnessing the hardships my mother endured and knowing firsthand the dangers that so many African women are exposed to, it was important to me to concentrate some of my work on women who are suffering in the same way we did.” Other initiatives have included establishing chicken farms in communities, whereby Victorine donates chicks to families who then raise them for eventual sale, generating income to buy more chicks. Having ventured into entrepreneurship herself, Victorine has also set up an Entrepreneur Association in Mbonso and a Young Entrepreneur Association in Kikaikelaki, both of which focus on rearing livestock to help farmers support themselves. Her latest plans for expansion include launching a UK-based charity called the Rosa Verla Foundation, which will support her overseas projects, tackling poverty and improving the standards of education in communities around the world. Humble beginnings The combination of Victorine’s life story, voluntary work, and entrepreneurial success has captured the attention of many. She is currently preparing to publish her book titled My Humble Beginnings, a biographical account of her childhood and the incredible journey she has taken to get where she is today. Her success isn’t just limited to the page either. An inspiration in her home country, her story is already being developed as a film by USA-based Cameroon film company Callywood, for which she has also signed an acting contract and will play the lead role in Ngonso, which films in December 2015. “When I look back on my childhood and then at what I have achieved today, I still occasionally find it hard to believe,” says Victorine. “But that’s why I say to people who attend my motivational talks that ‘It is possible; if I can do it then you can do it’ – because it’s true. I achieved my dreams, and they can too. That’s what VVL Extended Hands is all about.”

WLV Life Summer 2015



You’ve made it. Now make a difference. Become a volunteer mentor. Are you a good listener who can give invaluable advice to a student struggling to balance university work or living away from home for the first time? We are now recruiting for the Student Mentoring Programme 2015-16. As a mentor, you can help build confidence in your mentee, guide them on the road to employment by enhancing their CV, and offer first-hand experience to help them succeed at university.

How to apply For more information about what’s involved in being a volunteer mentor, including hearing what some of our former participants have to say about their experience, and to complete an application form, visit:


A picture paints a thousand tweets Despite a tweet’s frustratingly restrictive 140 character limit, fans of global social networking phenomenon Twitter have nevertheless managed to perfect the art of conveying what’s on their mind in an average of just 15 words. Granted, followers may be required to decipher a little text speak, but overall both the words a tweet contains and the sentiment behind it – whether positive, negative, both, or somewhere in between – are clearly and correctly understood. Admittedly, that’s not the toughest of challenges for a human brain capable of processing the most complex of information, but what if a computer was able to do the same thing?

WLV Life Summer 2015



That is exactly what Mike Thelwall, Professor of Information Science at the University of Wolverhampton, has developed. For those of you who can cast your memory back far enough, you will have seen Mike’s research in action during the 2012 Olympics, when the London Eye was turned into a stunning light show driven solely by the sentiment of tweets being posted about the London Games. The light fantastic A world-first, the spectacle was made possible by a system called SentiStrength. Designed by Professor Thelwall, the system uses sentiment analysis – the science of measuring the sentiment behind a set of words – to determine the positivity or negativity of tweets using a set of common rules based on how language is used. Every tweet was analysed for its sentiment, whether it was positive or negative, and filtered through the computer program which converted them into lights. The colours reflected the mood of people tweeting – purple for negative and yellow for positive. Mike explains: “The system basically scored every tweet according to a host of keywords and assigned it an overall sentiment. It happened in a millionth of a second.” If that wasn’t impressive enough, it’s not just the literal word that SentiStrength is able to analyse; it is also able to quantify overall sentiment by processing surrounding contextual words. With the phrase “not good”, for example, SentiStrength will detect the positive word “good” but also the use of “not”, and in turn correctly identify the sentiment as negative – similarly in the case of double negatives, which actually have a positive sentiment.

“This capability means the system is adaptable to the different ways people use language and construct sentences, ensuring more accurate analysis of the true meaning of their message,” says Mike. “It also allows for human social psychology which suggests that humans are capable of feeling both positive and negative sentiment at the same time.” Furthermore, words that are deliberately misspelled to create emphasis are also understood by the programme. By processing how a misspelled word would sound phonetically if spoken, SentiStrength is able to detect its underlying tone and whether it is positive or negative. He adds: “Such advanced functionality gives the research a much greater social aspect, as it allows for the unique way

people write text for the social web and its growing prominence in everyday language.” SentiStrength was used again this year in the lead-up to the NFL Super Bowl, which this time saw New York’s iconic Empire State Building forming the canvas. Fans were encouraged to tweet in support of their team, and each night the building was lit up in the colours of the team that received the most tweets.


World-leading research Mike is one of the leading experts worldwide in infometrics, and in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), his research into sentiment analysis was rated world-leading, receiving a higher average score than the institution-wide average of any other British university, including Oxford and Cambridge. Mike says: “The implications of the research are far-reaching and it has

practical applications in many areas in addition to cultural life; including economic prosperity for businesses, and social benefits for the general public as members of a society and consumers of information.”

“The speed of SentiStrength means companies can monitor reaction in real-time, so if a problem develops with a product they are able to identify it and address it promptly, limiting costly negative publicity,” Mike explains.

Global giant Yahoo! uses the program in its Yahoo! Answers service, analysing the feedback given to those who respond to questions and filtering for good intentions. Those with positive feedback then appear higher on future answers, as their responses are determined to be the most helpful.

From a social perspective, SentiStrength also has valuable applications in aiding public understanding of events; providing a clearer, more digestible, insight into the overall public attitude and feeling towards them. In the aftermath of the UK riots in 2011, 2.6 million tweets were analysed by a research team at the University of Manchester, which included Professor Thelwall. The aim was to gauge public reaction to the riots, the results of which were published by The Guardian newspaper.

It is also used in market research and customer relations management to enable companies to detect what customers are saying about their products.

Going from strength to strength In an increasingly sentiment-driven world where public opinion is more freely and easily given, the scope for enhancing the functionality, accuracy and application of SentiStrength is vast. Looking to the future, Mike says: “I would definitely like to improve the system’s ability to detect sarcasm. It will never fully be able to, as every person uses it in a different way, but a restricted set of common rules that apply to everyone will allow us to enhance its capability in this area.” While SentiStrength has already been translated into 20 languages, there are also plans to increase this further, giving its application greater global reach. Mike’s latest initiative is a collaborative project with the University’s engineering department investigating whether SentiStrength can be used to identify areas of traffic congestion. He concludes: “I like having a problem and having an idea about what the solution may be. There are so many possibilities for SentiStrength, and if there is a chance it can be implemented to provide the solution then we’ll research it!”

WLV Life Summer 2015



International Fair 2015

A cultural celebration

City Campus embraced internationalism on Friday 24 April, as the International Fair brought together different cultures for a one-day event in celebration of diversity and multiculturalism. Staff and students were invited to sample a variety of native food and drink, observe national dress and join in dance workshops. The day started with a steel drums performance, before the Vice-Chancellor and the Mayor and Mayoress of Wolverhampton officially opened the event. Featured dance workshops on the day included Bhangra, Bollywood, capoeira, Latin and samba, plus Morris dancing performances.

The University’s International Partnerships and Liaison Officer and event organiser, Susan Hazeldine said: “The International Fair was a wonderful opportunity for our overseas students to share their culture and heritage with colleagues and tutors at the University. The event was a great success and lots of fun was had by all. My thanks go to all the students and staff whose hard work made this possible.�


International news India – Strengthening the University’s links University Chancellor, the Rt Hon Lord Paul of Marylebone PC, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer, returned to India in April as part of our increasing global profile within the country. During their visit they met with Government ministers and were also greeted by business leaders and education officials in Delhi and Rajastan.

Hong Kong – Alumni Association spring events The Association has been busy so far this year with a host of leisure activities for its members, including a spring hike through picturesque locations around Luk Keng in May, and a summer wakeboard boating party in July. Plans are also underway for a special UK trip later this year where Hong Kong alumni will be welcomed back to Wolverhampton to see how their University has changed since leaving.

Malaysia - Global Partnerships Conference, 3 June The University hosted a conference for its international partners in Kuala Lumpa to celebrate the global increase of international access to higher education. As part of the event, the Vice-Chancellor hosted a special alumni dinner for Wolverhampton graduates in Malaysia.

Mauritius - Alumni Association welcomes new graduates On 25 July, a graduation ceremony was held for our students at our Mauritius Branch Campus which is part of the University of Wolverhampton. Coinciding with the graduation ceremony, there was also the opportunity for our newest alumni to meet the Vice-Chancellor.

WLV Life Summer 2015


Graduate Feature

My Life Álvaro Moreno de la Santa

BA (Hons) History of Art & Design and Media & Communications, 1996 When you’ve known all your life that you want to be a journalist on television, fulfilling that youth ambition must result in an amazing feeling of accomplishment. For Álvaro Moreno de la Santa, he feels this sense of achievement every day as the morning anchor for the Andalusian Public Channel, Canal Sur Televisión.

Good morning viewers When your alarm goes off in the early hours of the morning, you may be tempted to hit the ‘snooze’ button and go back to sleep. That is not the case for Álvaro who is wide awake bright and early. As the first face that viewers see when they turn on the television, he needs to be alert and smiling. Álvaro’s job as the morning presenter and director for la mañana y mas (translated as ‘Morning and more’) requires him to present not just the news but also entertainment, health, economy and culture segments, alongside his co-host Blanca Rodríguez.

He massively credits the University for enabling him to be as successful as he is today; Álvaro has even worn his University of Wolverhampton T-shirt on live television! “I always wanted to be a television journalist – it was my dream,” says Álvaro. “Television has changed so much over the years, so we as anchors and directors have to find new ways of attracting viewers. I am convinced I would not be where I am today without the University of Wolverhampton.” Into the limelight While Álvaro was studying, he was an intern on various US channels such as Univision and Telemundo in Chicago and NBC in Charlotte, North Carolina.

All his hard work as an intern paid off when Álvaro got his first job as a sports presenter at Canal Sur Televisión. Álvaro’s work did not go unnoticed; it is from here that he was offered a job that propelled his career. “I was offered a job that would involve me taking part in the launch of the first 24-hour private news show in Spain called CNN+. This was a joint venture between CNN and Canal+ and, on 27 January 1999, I had the privilege to anchor my first news show. My co-anchor on the Weekend News Show was Doña Letizia, who is now the Queen of Spain – who would have known that, at the time, I was working with the future Queen?!” When Álvaro left CNN+, he was offered other jobs but decided to return to Canal Sur Televisión, the place where he first established his career. “It was an easy decision returning to Canal Sur, it was my first channel and I feel a sense of pride working for the television station in my hometown. I have anchored so many programmes and presented morning, noon and evening news shows. I have even covered news around the world.” Having started his career at Canal Sur, Álvaro has gone full circle and now directs and anchors his own show for the television company. “At the moment, I am the director and anchor for la mañana y mas which is broadcast from Monday to Friday on the Andalusian Public Channel. We like to say it’s a different way of making and watching television, which can be hard but I love it.

Where are you now?

“I have a small team and we start preparing for the upcoming show at 7.30am, it is a live show so we need to make sure we are as prepared as possible.

We love to hear about where life has taken our graduates – the next steps they have taken and the joys and successes they are experiencing.

“The whole point of television is to be honest. You can’t deceive audiences so it’s vital to show your true self if you want a long career in television. la mañana y mas is doing very well, it competes in a very difficult time slot but we are pleased with how well audiences have taken it in to their lives.”

Why not tell us where you are now? You can be featured on our alumni website or maybe even in future editions of WLV@lumni e-zine and WLV Life magazine.

Can we have a selfie? As a household name, it’s not surprising that Álvaro has people recognising him wherever he goes.

You could write about your:

“There is nothing like someone stopping you on the street and saying I watch your programme every day. It is very important to me that viewers appreciate the work the team and I do – my mother’s opinion is also very important to me! “We don’t know what will happen in the future for la mañana y mas but I know that I want to keep producing programmes for as long as possible. “I am a project myself, I grow with every challenge, I do things to the best of my ability – respectfully, humbly and with great enjoyment: three things I learnt from the University. I will forever be indebted to the University of Wolverhampton.”

• career success or further study since graduating • travel experiences and adventures • hobbies and interests • personal life such as marriage and children • any other fantastic experiences you have had! To find out how to send us your story, and to read where some of our graduates from the past 50 years are now, visit:

WLV Life Summer 2015


WLV Alumni Association – benefits and services. We offer you great benefits and services long after you’ve left the University. • • • • • • • •

WLV Life alumni magazine and WLV@lumni e-newsletter. Alumni reunions and social events. Careers advice and guidance from our dedicated team. Access to our online jobs database. Professional development workshops and networking opportunities. Up to 20% discounted fees on taught postgraduate courses*. Discounted library and sports centre memberships. Volunteering opportunities, including becoming a mentor.

* Terms and conditions apply

Join us online You can join thousands of fellow alumni online. /wlvalumni @wlv_alumni

Life by email If you have an email address and would like to receive future editions of WLV Life by email, let us know at:

Alumni & Development University of Wolverhampton MX Building, Camp Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1AD United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1902 323 056 Email: Fax: +44 (0)1902 322 099 Website: MAC2610

Life magazine issue 9 - Summer 2015  
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