An award-winning first

Michael Calder with Michael Lavery

Published on 12 July 2019

21-year-old Michael Calder is the first recipient of the Michael Lavery Alumni Prize for Most Outstanding Student -English creative writing strand, and is delighted.

However, he admits: “I didn’t expect to last three weeks at university, in all honesty, so having lasted three years and be rewarded with this outstanding prize is mind blowing. To be noticed by my lecturers and peers for something as prestigious as the Michael Lavery Alumni Prize is astonishing and I can’t be grateful enough.”

Michael, who achiever First Class Honours for this the BA (Hons) in English and Creative Writing degree, had originally planned to study in Chester, but a change of heart led him to Sunderland.

“Initially, I wasn’t meant to come to Sunderland, accepting an offer in Chester early in my last year of sixth form. It wasn’t until late August that I changed my mind about moving so far. That’s when I began looking through UCAS for courses closer to home.

“I chose Sunderland because the course appealed to me more than those provided by other universities in the area, and I’d heard good reviews from past students on this course.

“In particular, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to build connections with like-minded people and lecturers. Outside of the lecture hall, being at university has also helped me transition into an adult lifestyle without being thrown in at the deep end.”

Michael, from Northumberland, will begin his Masters in English Studies course next year.

 The Alumni prize was presented by Michael Lavery, who himself graduated with a degree in English from the University of Sunderland in 2000. Michael has gone on to become a successful strategic brand, marketing and communications consultant, notably working with high-profile clients across education, health, arts, industry and third sectors, nationally and internationally.

He  said: "I realised it was coming up to the 20th year since graduating from Sunderland and I was reflecting on how fortunate I have been in my career now that I am in a situation where I have become my own boss, working both nationally and internationally.

"Now I am in control of my own future I wanted to support the future of other students. It's an incredibly competitive market and I understand the need for graduates to stand out. Having a prize awarded to a student who has shown something special during their course hopefully gives them an advantage in their future career. I am delighted to award Michael with his prize."

Steve Watts, Head of the School of Culture at the University, says: “The School was delighted that Michael Lavery decided to create the alumni prize for Creative Writing graduates. Michael Calder is a very worthy first winner of the prize.  

“Michael Lavery, as a graduate himself, is supporting the important work of the School in developing and recognising outstanding students and helping them in their next steps as graduates of the University of Sunderland.’

Michael Lavery worked in higher education leadership for 12 years before establishing a national and international brand and marketing consultancy, Brand & Reputation Ltd in 2017.

Some of his clients have included NHS hospitals, Oxford, UCL, British Columbia (Vancouver), Manchester, Durham, Nottingham and Swansea universities, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Cancer Research UK, Costa Coffee, Audi UK and Deutsche Bank.

Michael has extensive brand and marketing experience in the private and public sectors working across Europe, is an adviser to the House of Lords on education marketing and the public communication of science, and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (FRSA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (FCIPR).

He is also a member of the European Association of Communications Directors (EACD) and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). He is a Director of a social enterprise in the health sector, the chair of a participatory arts charity and an ambassador for a national children’s charity.

He has served on the European Board of Trustees of CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) since 2014 and on its Global Board and Executive Committee since January 2017. Michael has spoken at prestigious education and marketing/communications conferences around the globe, and has lectured at Durham, Teesside and Sunderland universities.