Our 100: These are the moments that make our University

Posted by nm365 at Dec 30, 2020 11:00 PM |
Celebrating 100 years

This year, our University celebrates its first 100 years as an institution that provided special moments for millions of staff and students. We asked our staff and student population to submit nominations of stories that they had a personal connection to.

Through your submissions, we put together an inclusive portrait of the University through three stories, delving into the history of the Attenboroughs and their long-standing relationship with the University, Sir Alec J. Jeffreys and his findings on DNA fingerprinting and Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith who became the first woman of colour to become President of the Leicester Student Union in 1975.

These are the moments that make our University’s wonderful history, intertwined with your individual experiences. Read the nominations submitted by you below and find out why they are integral moments of history at Leicester.

The Attenboroughs

“My nomination is the University’s connection to the Attenborough family. During my time at the University as a long-distance Masters student in Museum Studies, I got the opportunity to go on a study school as they called it. This was effectively a week up on campus with lectures and activities, as well as the opportunity to meet the departmental staff that we had been in remote contact with for the entire course. I remember being given a tour of the campus so that we properly felt at home in Leicester as students and we stopped at the building that was once the Attenborough family's house. Now I confess, prior to this point I wasn't really aware of any connection between the University and the Attenboroughs, but I was absolutely enthralled by the intertwined history.

"The email we all received asking us for nominations talked about wanting to compile a list of inspirational places, people, objects, moments, spaces and research, all reflecting the past 100 years, the present as well as the next 100 years. Well surely the Attenborough family ticks every box on that list? A group of truly remarkable people in their various fields, who've inspired millions of us, and have been involved in some of the most remarkable moments of the last century. I could write for a long time on David's career in the natural world or Richard's worldwide impact in filmmaking, but namedropping isn't the point. I think the very best virtues that the Attenborough family represent are also the wonderful core tenets of the University.

"I can't think of a better way to anchor the University's history than with one of the most famous families in the land, and their legacy will continue to be a part of the University today, as well as the next 100 years. The intertwined history of the University and the Attenborough family certainly inspired me when I was a student at University and it made me proud to have attended the University of Leicester."

Sir Alec J. Jeffreys and DNA fingerprinting

“In 1984, Alec J. Jeffreys discovered the use of genomic code resulted from the RFLP technique that grows up to become forensic genetics and helps elucidate tons of mysterious criminal cases worldwide. The concept and a number of genetic markers he discovered are not useful only in the field of forensic sciences but also outreaches to many related fields i.e. human molecular evolution, the study of genome instability and recombination, and wild-life conservation, to name but a few. His ground-breaking discovery has been long proven to be one of the world-changing innovations and the most global memorable events that put the University's name to the front line amongst other prestigious higher-education institutes."

“I grew up in Leicester hearing up about Alec's discovery - as my father is a criminologist. This also inspired me to choose a career in Genetics and study a BSc Biological Sciences (Genetics) course at the University of Leicester. I was lucky enough to be taught by him in my second year. I am currently a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, hoping to identify drug targets for human diseases.” “I'd like to nominate the 'Breakthrough in DNA'. This was a significant discovery and will be used for many years to come. This also helped put the University of Leicester on the map as one of the world's leading research universities. This discovery is now being used globally by every police force and will definitely be a life changing moment for all victims of crime."

Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith

"Esua was a live wire at Leicester when I was there. She fought for excellent causes, and did everything with vigour and enthusiasm. She believed in action and making a difference, and achieved it."

“I love the way she kind of went in and shook things up – she made her difference a strength. So I think she should be commemorated as part of Our 100.”

Esua made a huge impact on the lives of staff and students during her time at the University, mainly through her determination and drive to achieve equality. Esua became the first woman of colour to become President of the Leicester Student Union in 1975. She led many staff and student campaigns, particularly to combat sexism, and she also worked alongside staff to establish the Stanhope House Nursery for staff and student childcare. She organised Black Cultural events at the University, and alongside this penned articles that raised awareness of inequalities and misconceptions that society held towards black people. She also went on to be the first woman of colour to be Chair of the Fawcett Society (2001).

Esua has since gone on to become a high energy strategist and facilitator, with over 30 years’ experience as an activist in women’s human rights worldwide. She is a consultant to over 100 different voluntary organisations nationally and internationally, as a specialist in diversity, migration, and international development, and in connecting communities in the UK and Africa in her role as Queen Mother of Development and raising funds for her village in Ghana.

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