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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 Minerva Ledezma Martínez

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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!