Graduates and Students of the Year

The Graduate and Student of the Year awards were introduced in 2018 to recognise the outstanding achievements of members of the University of Stirling. Our students and alumni are making a difference on campus, in their communities, and around the world.

2019 Graduates of the Year

ardak berdibekov

Ardak Berdibekov, MSc Energy Management, 2011

Ardak graduated from the University of Stirling knowing that he had accessed something that was out of reach of many of his compatriots – Higher Education. Only 6.7% of students in Kazakhstan have access to scholarships allowing them to continue into Higher Education. To tackle this, Ardak established Neupusti, the first and largest online scholarship platform in Central Asia. His pioneering work saw him shortlisted for the Social Impact category in the prestigious British Council Alumni Awards, and the platform has enabled more than 2,000 Kazakhs to win life-changing scholarships worth $15 million.

dale mcewan

Dale McEwan, BA (Hons) Journalism Studies, 2009

Dale’s career in journalism began at Stirling where he was editor of Brig, and since graduating with a first, followed by a Masters at City University, London, he has gone on to pursue a successful career in bold investigative journalism. His documentary, Stolen Visionexposed the devastating impact of counterfeit medicine in Kurdistan and he spent over two years working in the region while investigating the issue in the face of heavy intimidation. The film was awarded 4 stars by UK Film Review who described it as “a wonderfully informative piece of investigative journalism”. Dale’s passion for public service journalism shines through in his recent work on the exploitation of student journalists and his involvement in the documentary Cows, Cash and Cover-Ups, an expose of the vCJD scandal. His work has featured in a variety of publications including Private Eye, The Lawyer, The Press & Journal and Gay Times.

Nicola Walters


Nicola Walters, BA (Hons) Business Studies and Management Science, 1996

Nicola’s achievements are as impressive as they are varied. She developed her exceptional timekeeping at Stirling where she balanced five part time jobs alongside her studies. After graduating, Nicola went on to win, as well as representing Team GB in Le Trec, undertaking an 1,100km solo hike from Switzerland to Spain and appearing in Channel 4’s Dangerous Jobs For Girls. Like Stirling, she embraces the international community and has worked globally, assisting clients in South Africa, Argentina and throughout Europe. Her commitment to innovation and tackling environmental challenges saw her successfully launch onits, a reusable, dry wipe alternative to sticky paper notes in 2018. Nicola’s enthusiasm for responsible business practice, innovative change and personal development has made her a valuable asset in student mentorship programmes.

2019 Students of the Year

emily hencher

Emily Hencher, Bachelor of Law (Hons)

Emily is President of Stirling’s Uni Boob Team (UBT), the society that raises awareness of signs of breast cancer in men and women and encourages people to check their breasts and pecks regularly. Recently awarded ‘Most Innovative Idea’ at the Clubs and Societies Awards, UBT has collaborated successfully with a number of Union-run, student-led campaigns on the environment, Fairtrade and health and wellbeing. Emily’s achievements as UBT President alone are worthy of recognition but when combined with her role of STEER Captain and her position on the Communities Zone Executive Committee, she is a shining example of what our students can achieve. Her boundless enthusiasm and will to succeed are sure to make her fourth year and summer placement, with prestigious law firm Harper MacLeod, an enormous success.

garry foster

Garry Foster, BAcc (Hons) Accounting and Business Law

During his teenage years Garry missed a lot of school days due to severe challenges with his mental health. His journey began with a small step out of his front door. A walk to the end of the street was then followed by a trip to the local shop. Since then he has rebuilt his social skills and progressed to college and then onto University. Garry graduated in June with an extraordinary academic record attaining 1sts in almost every academic module and also completed a successful work placement at the Royal Bank of Scotland – a feat which would have been inconceivable in the past. He has been an inspiration to others in the way he has overcome his personal challenges.

stefano intropido

Stefano Intropido, BA (Hons) International Politics and Languages

Stefano graduated in June 2019 with 1st class Honours based on a stellar academic performance. He secured a place at the prestigious SciencesPo Paris for his Semester Abroad and was awarded a Stevenson Exchange Scholarship to undertake research on the integration of refugees within the SciencesPo community. In addition, he volunteers in a range of school outreach activities, including acting as a Language Ambassador visiting local secondary schools, encouraging younger pupils to see the benefits of studying a language. His personal aim is to understand the challenges and problems that can hamper the development of that sense of belonging. In this context, Stefano is recognised for his energy and commitment to helping others feel part of a welcoming, inclusive academic community.