Portico P_black


What Janani, Sarah and Adam did next

Since 1826, scholarships have enabled students – whatever their gender, background or class – to come to UCL and shape our world.

Words Sarah Woodward Illustration Miles Donovan


Janani Paramsothy was awarded the Clairmonte E. Bourne Bursary and received her LLB in Law in 2013. She is now a civil servant.

Did I think as a disillusioned teenager that I would one day be sharing a speaking platform with the MD of Credit Suisse? Perhaps not, but that’s what the opportunity to study at UCL helped me achieve.

At 18 I had just come through a very difficult time during my A-levels: my father had passed away, and as the eldest of three, I was suddenly head of the family. I became heavily involved in Tamil activism and when the civil war in Sri Lanka came to an end in 2009 I was devastated with the outcome. As an angry 18-year-old, I felt the system didn’t believe in, or work for, me, my family, my people or the interests of fairness or justice generally.

It was in the middle of this that I got my place at UCL to read Law, and was offered the scholarship. It made such a difference: not just the financial support, although of course that was helpful, but that someone believed in me enough to invest in my education and development as a person. My time at UCL went a long way towards working through my deep distrust of the system, so much so that now I am a civil servant, working at the Cabinet Office.

It gave me the time to get back on my feet, the learning to set me up not just for a career, but for a happy and fulfilling life, access to some amazing tutors and now friends from around the world.

Halfway through my first year I met Clairmonte Bourne, who funded the scholarship and is now MD at Credit Suisse. UCL – and everything it stands for – has a special place in my heart and life.

“My father had passed away and as the eldest of three I was suddenly head of the family. I felt the system didn’t believe in me or my family”

Sarah Morris received the Land Securities Scholarship in 2008. She is now Head of Science at a preparatory school in Nairobi, Kenya.

There’s a lot of talk these days about youngsters having respected role models, and the fact that I can inspire my pupils is undoubtedly the biggest impact of my Master’s from UCL.

But it all began quite differently. At 26, four years of volunteering and travelling overseas after graduating with a First from UCL in Human Sciences, I was working in a remote part of Australia looking after camels; that’s when I decided that it was time to launch a ‘real’ career and apply for an MSc. I was offered a place on the MSc European Property Development and Planning course and getting the scholarship took away the financial burden of taking a year out to go back to London and study in my mid-20s. I was also lucky enough to have a two-week work placement with Land Securities.

Without that encouragement I might not have returned to my studies. Now I am very grateful I did, even though my subsequent career has not ended up in property. When I graduated, I was looking for roles in the property development sector abroad. However, it was 2010, the sector was in a slump, and it was difficult for recent graduates to find roles. So I went in search of somewhere to put my experience to good use, ending up in Kenya.

None of the work I’ve done since would have been possible without the support of the scholarship, and I hope that the impact of my time at UCL will help to inspire my pupils for years to come. Though my career path has changed slightly from where I originally set out, I’m so pleased to be teaching and to be able to help develop the next generation of students – maybe even some might come back to UCL!

I was working in a remote part of Australia looking after camels. I knew it was time to launch a ‘real’ career and apply for an MSc

Adam Koon (MA 1999) was awarded a Chevening Scholarship and subsequently the Denys Holland Award. He is now an in-house lawyer for Credit Suisse.

If I hadn’t been awarded the Chevening scholarship through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office my life would have turned out very differently – it was my ‘Sliding Doors’ moment. Rather than a career practising law in Malaysia, which is where I went back to after completing my undergraduate law degree, I was able to study for a Master’s at UCL in Law, Philosophy and Public Policy, and I’ve since been able to use my knowledge and experience to advise some of the biggest names in financial services, including JP Morgan, Lansdowne Partners and State Street Bank.

As a student in the late 1990s I found UCL to be challenging and hugely rewarding, and the course, which was new, had a pioneering feel. I became very involved in student life, relaunching the UCL union magazine, PI, as its Editor, and later becoming Arts Editor of the University of London newspaper.

When I finished my MA I was invited to do a doctorate and applied for the Denys Holland Award, set up by his former students in memory of the Dean, who took the view that being good at exams wasn’t the only important thing. It allowed me to have another fantastic two years at UCL and I hope I made a meaningful contribution during that time (not least in setting up the UCL Ultimate Frisbee Club, which I still support!).

When I l left, I used the media contacts I had made to work as a film journalist and editor before I went back to the law. I am enormously grateful for my time at UCL – the scholarships granted me a first-class education that continues to enrich my everyday life, providing great friends, memories and inspiration.

The Campaign for UCL aims to improve the student experience by raising more money than ever before for scholarships and bursaries and by supporting the construction of a new student centre. The campaign will also look to build our global network of alumni volunteers, who enhance the UCL student experience through events and careers mentoring. If you would like to support these activities visit our campaign website for more information about how to give your money and time at www.ucl.ac.uk/campaign

  • Contents 2016/17Contents 2016/17
  • DeconstructedDeconstructed
  • InboxInbox
  • Two new grand challengesTwo new grand challenges
  • Free RadicalFree Radical
  • UCL a “global university”UCL a “global university”
  • Jeremy Bentham SpeaksJeremy Bentham Speaks
  • Extra CurricularExtra Curricular
  • The Strong RoomThe Strong Room
  • CloisteredCloistered
  • Follow the CrowdFollow the Crowd
  • A Time to GiveA Time to Give
  • How to Build a BrainHow to Build a Brain
  • Next MachinaNext Machina
  • Social AnimalsSocial Animals
  • What Janani, Sarah and Adam did nextWhat Janani, Sarah and Adam did next
  • The power of philanthropyThe power of philanthropy
  • This idea must dieThis idea must die
  • London  vs  WorldLondon vs World
Portico Issue 3. 2016/17