A married couple are the first joint winners of Brunel University’s Mentor of the Year award, run by the Widening Participation team.
Aarti Patel, a commodity trader with NewEdge, and her husband Dipesh Patel, a manager at BSkyB who was himself a Brunel mentee, mentored students Uma Dasgupta (Economics) and Stacey Morrison (Sociology and Communications) respectively.
In a joint statement, the couple said it was a great pleasure to ‘give back’ as mentors.
They said: “Through effective pairing, we found common ground with the students quickly and were able to agree what we wanted to achieve immediately. We felt that we got just as much out of the experience as our mentees did and we would recommend it to everyone.”
Third-year student Uma remarked that not only did she learn professional skills but also lessons in networking and etiquette. “This came in handy when I was invited to have lunch with Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal family to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in Westminster Palace, as part of a community project I took part in,” she said. “I hope I can reflect all Aarti’s qualities on to my buddy (a first year undergraduate whom I mentor) and be half the mentor that she has been to me.”
The University has also named its National Mentoring Consortium Mentee of the Year, Bonginkosa (Bongi) Kawuliza. Bongi, who studied International Business and has now started work as Duty Manager for BP Oil (Retail), said: “As I move forward I will take the experience and knowledge that was given to me into my new job with BP. I’ll definitely contribute back to this brilliant scheme that prepares and equips us with invaluable skills in the business world.”
Bongi's mentor Ronnie Haynes, of the Government’s Department of Work and Pensions, said: “Bongi continues to develop, and he demonstrates the characteristics of someone who has the potential to really excel in any role he commits to. He encapsulates the drive and determination that all students should aspire to.”
Xameerah Malik, a senior committee specialist at the House of Commons, was named National Mentoring Consortium Mentor of the Year for her work with Biomedical Sciences student Sandra Kwayisi-Dokyi.
Brunel's Widening Participation and National Mentoring Consortium schemes are co-ordinated and organised by Bertie Ross and Dr Beverley Crooks. The programs aim to help people from ethnic minority backgrounds who come from families without a history of attending university to enter higher education and start rewarding careers.