Iain Banks 1954 - 2013
BA 1975, DUniv 1997 ,
"I came to Stirling because it was fairly close to home – we lived in Gourock at the time - but not so close that commuting would have been a realistic possibility, and also because I’d grown to hate exams and knew that the University used continuous assessment."
"I did get in a lot of writing while I was at Stirling, as well as a fair amount of walking in the hills, too, plus I was handily placed to keep in touch with my extended family in Fife."
"What I remember most keenly is the wonderful feeling of freedom of being there, and the sheer intoxication of living and working in a place devoted to learning, to the pursuit of knowledge. I still smile when I think of the place, the time, and my years at Stirling were some of the happiest and most productive of my life. All that, plus I got to be an extra in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’. How cool was that?”
BA 1991, MA 2003
"I started playing golf when I was about seven years old and I used to tag along with my two older brothers. I first played at the Children’s Course in North Berwick, where I was brought up. I have always been sporty and enjoyed most sports, including playing badminton for Scotland at junior level.
"The first golf tournament I won was a children’s tournament in North Berwick. I then went on to play more tournaments and actually represented Great Britain and Ireland in the Vagliano Trophy match before I played for Scotland, which I suppose was quite unusual.
"I was one of the first students on the Golf Scholarship programme at the University of Stirling and decided to make golf my career in my second year at University; it was after I won the British Amateur and had played in the Curtis Cup a couple of times. I thought I might always regret never trying to realise if I had the potential to be a successful touring professional. My time at University was key in developing my golf skills and I benefited from the coaching, in particular that of Golf Professional, John Chillas. I graduated from Stirling with an Honours degree in Financial Studies in 1991.
"The highlights of my career so far have been winning the LPGA Tour, winning in Scotland at Gleneagles and playing in the winning Solheim Cup. I also enjoy the fact that my career has given me an opportunity to travel.
"My ambition for the future would be to win the US Open one day."
Graduated 1997 with a BA Film & Media Journalist
"Having visited my older brother at Stirling while he was studying there and experienced a Murray Hall party at 13, I knew that I had to go there when my time came. When I did finally arrive in 1993, I threw myself into University life, particularly sports. As captain of the swimming and waterpolo clubs, I also ended up as the Vice-President of the Sports Union and almost stood for the sabbatical President’s position.
"It was the print journalism course, as part of my Film & Media degree, that pointed me in the direction of journalism. On leaving Stirling, I did a postgraduate diploma in journalism and got my first job, on the local paper in my own home town, The Clydebank Post. I then worked as a news reporter for The Scotsman before working at the Daily Record and it was there that I got my first taste of undercover journalism, as part of a campaign against heroin. It was about that time that I heard that there was a place going at the BBC as an undercover reporter. They had already begun work on a programme to investigate racism in the Police service and I was asked to consider working on this. I jumped at the chance and it was to take over my life for 18 months. A new identity was created for me, the key part disguising my background in journalism. I joined Greater Manchester Police in January 2003 and remained undercover until August when I was arrested, when my true identity was uncovered.
"The results of our investigation were broadcast in a programme called, 'The Secret Policeman', on the BBC in autumn 2003. We exposed a significant number of racist police officers, who were later forced to resign.
"I am grateful for my experiences at Stirling. I had an absolute ball. Apart from that, it was there that I decided to be a journalist and learned valuable practical skills – from the writing that got me my first job, to the editing skills that helped me to put together 'The Secret Policeman'."
Graduated 2000 with a BA Hons Marketing with Sports Studies
"Prior to my graduation, I completed a CRAC Insight into Management Course organised by the Career Development Centre, where I was able to work alongside young managers from different companies and learn from their experiences.
"The one company that inspired me was Accenture, the world’s leading management and technology consulting organisation. After completing my degree I decided that Accenture was right for me and filled in an online application form. The application process was very quick and I had soon received a letter confirming my first interview. Being a little nervous I went to the Careers Advisory Service who gave me literature on Accenture as well as explaining the interview process and what questions to expect.
"I got the job and after extensive training all over the UK and Chicago, I returned to London to work in Energy Trading & Risk Management. Every day with Accenture is a challenge and I have faced some very steep learning curves during my first year. The financial rewards are excellent, but perhaps the ultimate reward is opening the Financial Times to read how successful your last project really was!"
Graduated in 2001 with a BSc Hons Conservation Management
"My degree involved a four-week placement at the end of the third year. Due to my interest in native woodland regeneration, I went to Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve and never looked back!
"I became a regular volunteer at Creag Meagaidh, going back whenever the University calendar allowed it. Through my involvement there I gained experience in habitat assessment, wildlife observation (mainly deer counts) and practical estate management.
"When I finished my degree I returned to volunteer full-time whilst looking for employment. After a few interviews with Scottish Natural Heritage I was offered the post of Area Officer based in the Fort William office. My job is very varied and includes planning consultations, monitoring designated sites, providing advice on grant aid and regular training on everything from aquaculture to landscape assessment. The combination of my degree and work experience has really helped me get the conservation career I was looking for."
Graduated in 2000 with a BA Hons in Film & Media
"Since 2000 I’ve been grafting hard at All Out Productions, an independent production company who make BBC Radio Programmes. I began work here two days after graduation and really haven’t stopped since! Starting as a researcher (aka tea boy) I’ve shown commitment, passion and a ‘scrap’ of talent to help climb the ladder. I’m now a producer, making my own programmes.
"Highlights so far include getting to tour with musician Badly Drawn Boy in the US for a Radio 1 ‘rockumentary’ (which scooped me a Golden Sony Radio Academy Award – the radio industry’s Oscars!) And on a more sombre note, being flown out to NYC to cover the aftermath of 9/11 for BBC Five Live – a tough, emotional job but an invaluable journalistic experience.
"This industry is full of highs and lows, sleepless nights and star struck encounters. I never dreamed that burning the midnight oil to meet Stirling Uni course deadlines, whilst listening to Radio 1 DJs, would see me working with the very people behind those voices (Steve Lamacq, Emma B, Judge Jules et al).
"The media course at Stirling gave me a brilliant grounding to apply confidently for this job. I’d recommend it to every undergrad. However, when it comes to a career with the media be sure it’s what you want to do, be confident with the skills you’ve got and don’t be afraid to approach people with your ideas – they might just hire you! I found it vital to get lots of industry work experience during semester breaks and to keep the contacts I made – a degree on its own wouldn’t have got me this job! Good Luck."
Graduated in 2000 with a BA in Sociology
"After many years working as a secretary/administrator at the University, I decided to embark on a part-time evening degree. As it had been several years since leaving school, I completed the access course and after five years of hard work and study, I graduated in March 2000.
"My experience of working in research centres in the University and my degree in Sociology encouraged me to apply for research posts. I have worked as a research assistant on Scottish Executive funded studies in the Department of Applied Social Science and more recently in the Department of Psychology, both at the University.
"In the future I hope to undertake an MSc in Applied Social Research."