Social media guru and disability rights campaigner Julie Howell has been named the first winner of the University of Brighton Alumnus Award.
Julie, who graduated in 1992 with a degree in Library and Information Studies from our school, will receive her award on 9 February at the university's winter graduation ceremony.
It is in recognition of her public campaigning for the university, the support she has given students, her championing of diversity and equality issues, her achievements in setting up advocacy websites for people with disabilities, such as the Jooly's Joint website which is accessed by 60,000 people with MS, and her work as a mentor with the university's award-winning Momentum scheme. She was one of the first members of the university's Alumni Advice Network.
The award was set up by the Brighton Graduate Association to recognise the outstanding professional, personal or social achievements of alumni that aligned with the aims of the university.
Despite developing multiple sclerosis whilst a student at Brighton, Julie's achievements have been numerous and varied.
A renowned campaigner for making technologies accessible to all, she was the technical author of the first British Standards specification on accessible web design for disabled people.
She has won national awards for her endeavours, including the Greatest Individual Contribution to New Media at the New Media Age Awards, The New Statesman New Media Awards best online community award and the Mirror Readers' Choice award for best website. In 2003 she was named one of the 50 most influential people in new media by New Media Age.
Julie says: "I have always considered my relationship with the university to be lifelong and have been very pleased to be able to help support undergraduates in the years since my own graduation, having received so much support and encouragement from university staff when I myself was an undergraduate almost 20 years ago.
"I am extremely proud to be an alumna of the university and, while I may rub shoulders with many Oxbridge grads professionally, I have always felt that a degree from Brighton is of equal calibre, equipping me as it did with key transferable skills that have enabled me to carve out a successful career in the area of my choice.
"I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the final year of my degree course, and the caring support that my tutors gave to me at that horrible time has carried me forwards with confidence and determination, and enabled me to achieve a level of success far beyond anything I could have imagined. I hope the current crop of undergraduates and newly graduating students will feel encouraged and believe that a degree from Brighton gives you everything you need to be successful in your future professional lives."