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UoM Stories

 To meet, share, and inspire



We are a group of PhD students that pitched to Manchester Doctoral College to run an event bringing PhD students of all three faculties of UoM together.

UoM Stories is a ‘TED’-Talk/’Humans of New York’-style initiative aimed at infusing a ‘storytelling to inspire’ culture within the PhD research community. We achieve this goal in two ways; a TED style event exclusive to PhD students, and an online platform showcasing inspirational PhD life stories.

This initiative addresses the seclusive nature of research work, and given that 1 in 3 PhD students suffer from mental health issues, there is an unmet need for a university-wide PhD event and sharing platform to learn from each others’ successes and struggles – not the research itself, but the person conducting it.


The evening showcase in Whitworth Hall on 31st January 2019 – “UoM Stories”, showcased speakers who shared their life stories, with a connection to UoM. The event aimed to bring students from different disciplines all over campus, together. To meet, share, and inspire.

We identified speakers that inspired us and when we contacted them they were enthusiastic to share their personal life stories with us. Our speakers were approached with diversity and inclusivity in mind and we have a range of disciplines and backgrounds represented; encompassing both genders, different races, abilities, age and career stage.

PhD students from all three faculties of the University of Manchester were invited to attend, the registration sold out within 3 days, with 400 students alongside a 75-student long wait list. 44% of the PhD students that attended were from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, 33% were from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and 23% were from the Faculty of Humanities.

 We are delighted to announce that the event will run next year with Manchester Doctoral College, and we were awarded a Commendation from the University of Manchester Making a Difference Awards for Outstanding Public and Community Engagement Initiative.

Below are the inspirational stories shared by the speakers at the event:


UoM Stories 2019 inspirational talks

Dr Hamied Haroon:

Professor Vikas Shah:

Leena Gade:

Professor Nicky Cullum:

Dr Jack Rivers-Auty:

Dr Emma Ferguson-Coleman:

Professor Nancy Rothwell:



Photos from the event


 100% of those who responded to the survey said they would recommend UoMStories to a friend. What they liked the best:


 “All the speakers, without exception, were great. Their life stories were inspirational.”

 “I really liked the variety of talks, and the representation of successful disabled people. I appreciated that the speakers brought humour and their own personality into the talks and got free rein of what to talk about.”

 “All the speakers were really good, it’s hard to pick a favourite”

 “The variety of speakers was excellent. I really liked to hear from people in different circumstances.”

 “The guest speakers! They were very diverse and really inspiring to me. I was struggling a lot over the last few months, and after listening to their stories it really opened my mind.”

 “The selected speakers were great because they represented different specialisations and different roles within the university.”

 Networking and student stories

 “It was a great networking opportunity. I really enjoyed it.”

 “I loved the speakers, the general positivity of the event, and the networking time afterwards. I also liked that you asked people to submit their stories and thus involving them to the event.”


“People usually underestimate how important stories are in guiding our own behaviour and efforts. I think this was a great chance to reflect on what are the stories we tell about ourselves and what is the impact those stories have on everyone else around.”


An article on the event was also published:

 Our long-term vision is to keep collecting UoM PhD life stories to create a storytelling culture at the University of Manchester to improve well-being, inter-faculty collaboration, and inspire PhD researchers past, present, and in the future.


 Kathryn McGurk, Nikhil Jacob, Lorna Sinclair, Jayesha Chudasama


Congratulations to Armida Gjindali who won the £200 prize at the event for sharing her story on our social media platforms. Pre-launch, we collected 30 personal stories from UoM PhD students, they are available to view here on the blog and our social media pages:

Your inspirational stories

Check out these stories from UoM doctoral students!


The story of Carmen Ionita

The story of Carmen Ionita

I find the greatest inspiration in diversity. The more I discover the world around me, the more I discover myself - what I am, what I am not and what I can become. I am inspired by people who are not from my bubble: I like talking to people with different cultural...

The Story of Media Askar

The Story of Media Askar

My grandmother was a poor woman. However, my mother is not poor. She successfully cut the cycle of poverty from my family. Once I asked her. What made her able to do so? The answer is financial literacy. After my grandmother passed away, she had to fight alone to make...

The Story of Lynne Sykes

The Story of Lynne Sykes

I am inspired by the tenacity and optimism I see in others. I am inspired by the wild seas they weather without dissent. I am inspired by the light I see each morning. I am inspired by my calling to diagnose and prevent a multitude of illnesses through discourse and...

The Story of Nadine Mirza

The Story of Nadine Mirza

What is my inspiration? I feel fickle when asked. As if a singular response is lying. When my inspiration is constantly changing, boasting so many faces, how can I name it? Is it the grand scale 850,000 living with dementia in the UK? Or the comparatively microscopic...

The Story of Armida Gjindali

The Story of Armida Gjindali

There is a connection between scientists, which transcends time and space, a feeling of mutual support and a common way of perceiving the world. No matter the time or place they lived we can always connect with them because we feel the effects of their actions in...

The Story of Anna, PhD student of Medicine

The Story of Anna, PhD student of Medicine

Loes is the most inspirational person I know, even though she doesn’t have an MBA. She started working at age 14. When she was 35, she met my brother and me. She became our nanny, and over the next 15 years we were lucky enough to spend more than 1500 days with her....

The Story of Hanum Yaakub

The Story of Hanum Yaakub

After finished high school, I was offered a scholarship to pursue my first degree in Japan. It was a twinning program; 2 years in Malaysia + 3 years in Japan. During the first 2 years, we need to learn Japanese Language and Sciences subjects. We were also taught about...

The Story of Liliana Correia

The Story of Liliana Correia

Who does inspire me? Those who believe in us more than ourselves Inspiring to always break the boundaries that we create. Those who are still dreaming, Who are conscious and work for a better life and healthy world to our and next generation. Those who tell us to be...

The Story of Christopher Heath

The Story of Christopher Heath

I am inspired by anybody who tries to make the world a better place and improve the lives of the people around them. I am also inspired by the curiosity about ourselves and the world around us that science fosters. One of the reasons I enjoy research is that it has...

The Story of Minerva Ledezma Martínez

The Story of Minerva Ledezma Martínez

After recovering of a long term illness and two surgeries, my goal was to achieve the English level required to be accepted at The University of Manchester to pursue a PhD in Chemical Engineering. I learnt English by myself, taking a few formal classes. My desire to...

Share your story and join the UoM movement! Contact us via email or Facebook, and tell us who inspires you and why! We’ll share your story with the UoM community and you can help inspire others!