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"Middlesex made me the way I am today... I want to be like my lecturers"

Graduate stars of 2022 talk about their MDX experiences, ambitions and dreams

A young South Asian woman with long brown hair, wearing a pink sweater. She smiles at the camera

Computer Science student Romila Nilukshi Jeevapalan graduated with a Distinction from her BSc programme this summer and was a nominee for the Dr Ajit Singhvi Prize, a Middlesex award for Best Women Engineering Student.

Romila, who has a severe hearing impairment, has known she wanted to be a software engineer since she was aged just 7, and an engineer came to fix her computer, showing her exactly what to do to deal with the issues.

She took extra lessons at school and was boosted by a teacher who "really believed in me" she says. She also credits her mother, who "taught me to work hard and to NEVER give up, especially when there have been difficulties and barriers in life".

In 10 years' time, she hopes to be working for a big organisation, in networks or in cybersecurity, protecting customers' data.

At MDX, Romila says, "I've had brilliant opportunities and working experiences with so many different people and great conversations with other peers. It's been such a good learning opportunity".

She feels strongly about the current gender imbalance in university-level study for some STEM subjects, and hopes to see equal representation in future.

2021 MSc Strength & Conditioning graduate Jerry Okoye was overcome by “tears of joy” as he reflected on completing his Bachelors and Masters, and his gruelling experience during the pandemic.

Five female and male students in blue academic gowns and caps stand in front of the College Building at MDX

Having volunteered during the first lockdown both as a hospital domestic and as an emergency community responder, he received a text telling him to shield because of an underlying auto-immune condition.

Returning to his partner, stepson and daughter with orders not to go outside, Jerry focused on improving his own fitness, delivering spin and bootcamp classes online and preparing to set up a sports injury clinic as soon as lockdown ended. He launched JMFitClinic in Wood Green in 2020 and is about to open a second clinic in Chelsea.

One of his Masters placements was at NFL Academy at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, where he worked with American football superstars like Odell Beckham Jr. Another was taking care of participants in the London Marathon, dispensing a pre-activity massage regime and post-race recovery routine.

A young black man in academic cap and gown with a young white woman, and a young man and a girl in MDX Quad. They all smile MDX “made me the way I am today” he says. He was a Student Voice Leader, a Student Learning Assistant and Senior Learning Assistant, and over the past year has been an hourly paid academic teaching post-rehab to MSc students. He won awards for Overall Student of the Year, Student Voice Leader of the Year, an SLA Contribution Award; and a prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Faculty of Science & Technology.

He thanks his lecturers – “super, super, super-intelligent people… I want to be like them” – his coursemates, "every one" of whom has contributed to his life, and head of department Dr Rhonda Cohen.

Headshot of a young white man with receding hairline who is smiling faintly

Matthew Roze came to MDX via direct entry into the third year of BA Theatre Performance & Production, after studying on courses with LAMDA.

As someone with dyslexia, who had once been told that he would never get to university, he found MDX lecturers and tutors "beyond helpful, incredibly nice... They knew how to talk to me, they would leave it to me until I asked. I’ve never had that, ever".

During his time at MDX, Matthew set up a workshop programme called The Neuroclusive Project - which originally he imagined would be aimed at neurodivergent students to help them learn through drama, but it became apparent, offered useful "life skills for everybody".

He also won a placement to do drama facilitation with teenagers at artsdepot, as part of the National Theatre's Connections programme, which culminated in a production of Like There Was No Tomorrow, a play about global warming from a young person’s perspective.

Looking ahead, he hopes to keep performing in some way.

"Whether you have a learning difference or not, whatever someone thinks of you, it doesn't matter: you shouldn't have to feel you’re the odd one out," says Matthew.

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