Alumni Awards - 2017 winners

The University of South Wales community - graduates and students alike - is filled with people making a difference at all levels of society, worldwide. Be that in business or industry, society or culture – or right here on our doorstep within the University.


The USW Alumni Awards recognise the excellence and achievement of individuals within our network. The actions of our alumni reflect the excellence of a USW education and our mission to provide not only innovative education and world class graduates, but also culturally aware global citizens making positive strides.

We're delighted to announce category winners for 2017:

Inspiring The Next Generation Award

Nadia Youssef  - BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences, 2016

Medical student, Cardiff University 

Having moved to the Cwmbran from Oman at age 14, Nadia could speak little English and overcame personal adversity and academic setbacks to achieve top grades to enter UK higher education. While at USW, she  served as her class representative, student voice representative and student ambassador. As a graduate of the course, she can often be found running workshops to prepare current students for their medical interviews. In recognition of her overcoming the odds to study medicine, Nadia was awarded BMA Cymru Wales’ Sherman Fund Award which encourages wider access to medical studies within Wales.

Excellence in Service Award

Martin Phillips  - HND Civil Engineering, 1984

Operations Manager, Keepmoat Group

Martin has been integral to invigorating the 1981-1984 Polytechnic of Wales Football Team ahead of their 35th anniversary year. Drawing together players who, for some, had not been in touch for over 30 years, Martin has spent significant hours reaching out via social media and via the Alumni Relations Team. In working doggedly over the years, Martin has held interim reunions including one in London, and has enabled the University to tap into alumni expertise at the highest levels. Some of  Martin’s team mates have since returned to campus as guest lecturers within our Careers Futures programming.

GOLD Award (Graduate of the Last Decade)

Catherine Woolley - BA(Hons) Computer Games Design, 2009

Senior Designer, Media Molecule

Named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit and having featured twice in MCV Top 30 Women in Games, Catherine is currently a Senior Designer with Media Molecule. Having more than eight years in the sector, Catherine has previously worked at EA Bright Light, creating a series of interactive books for the Nintendo DS called Flips and the final two titles in the Harry Potter game series. Catherine is continuously encouraging young people to think about the games industry as a career path.  Catherine has served as a BAFTA juror for the Games Award and has previously attended BAFTA Young Game Designers events, seeking to inspire the next generation of developers.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Marco Marenghi - HND Animation, 1997


An electronics engineer by trade, Marco was unemployed when his wife spotted an animation course at the University of Glamorgan. And so began his career trajectory. Having joined the University as a mature student, Marco took strength from his younger classmates and recognised that he had a future in the creative industries. He was right to persevere, as his filmography now boasts and impressive list including working for Sony supervising the animation on blockbusters such as I Am Legend and Ghost Rider along with the Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, DC Comics' Green Lantern and later directing the animation for the Walking With Dinosaurs movie. Marco was awarded an honorary degree by the University in 2009. Currently living in Los Angeles, Marco has also been involved in graduate mentoring.

Emerging Entrepreneur Award

Fran Kelly - MA Arts Practice (Art, Health and Wellbeing), 2016

Frankly Materials Ltd

Having trained as a prop maker at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Fran Kelly returned to education and was inspired by a module entitled Professional Practice. Five months in to launching Frankly Materials Ltd, Fran is capitalising on her awareness of there not being a local materials supplier to the creative industries, and is filling a gap in the market. Fran’s ambition is to be the leading creative materials supplier in the UK and Europe within 5 years. Frankly Materials Ltd would look to optimise its website should the company be successful in winning the category.

Accomplished Entrepreneur Award

Russell Jones - BA (Hons) Film and Video, 2008

Adam Millbank - BA (Hons) Documentary Film, 2008


Having both graduated in 2008, Russell and Adam showed tenacity at the height of the recession when they incorporated JonesMillbank. Following work as freelancers they have since built a reputation in local sectors securing contracts with a wide range of  organisations, including the University of Bristol, The Royal Mint Nestle and NHS. Larger projects have helped their growth and turnover has now increased by an average 81% each year since 2014. The company ethos to never take on debt, never to over recruit and to empower colleagues to drive for personal and professional success has driven repeated achievement.

Contribution to Welsh Life and Culture Award

Margaret Isaac - PGCE, 1976

Author, retired teacher

Having completed her initial UG studies in 1961, Margaret has had a lifetime in and around education. Margaret has been associated with the National Trust and other organisations helping develop teaching resources linked to Welsh Life and Culture. Since 1999, Margaret has authored a number of stories on Welsh myths and legends. She has been a Visiting Writer to several English and Welsh language schools and her work has been encouraged by Literature Wales.