Alumni Awards for outstanding former Lancaster students

A compilation of students in graduation gowns smiling at camera © Lancaster University
From L to R: Vanessa Ganguin, Dr John Hogan, Rachel Mann, Samantha Renke

Samantha Renke BA (Hons), Area Studies (German), Bowland, 2008

Actress and disability rights campaigner Samantha Renke has received an Alumni Award from Lancaster University at this year’s graduation ceremonies.

Samantha is an actress, broadcaster, writer, disability rights campaigner and inclusion consultant. Her work has been acclaimed in various quarters, including the Susan Mullen award for best actress at the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival and recognition in the top five of the Shaw Trust’s Powerlist of 100 Most Influential Disabled People UK 2020.

In the same year, Samantha was shortlisted as Celebrity of the Year at the National Diversity Awards, following a 2019 nomination as Campaigner of the Year in the European Diversity Awards. She is an ambassador for Scope, ADD International and Parallel Global.

Samantha was nominated for the award by Allyson Fiddler, Professor Emerita of German and Austrian Studies. She said: “Samantha was a trailblazing student, helping Lancaster to think more about how to accommodate diverse needs, both in the tangible sense of improvements to buildings as well as in the realm of teaching and learning practices. Future students have benefited from some of the many ways in which we've been able to adapt and become more flexible as a result.”

Samantha is one of four outstanding Lancaster alumni to receive an Alumni Award. The awards recognise Lancaster graduates who have made a substantial contribution in their field and have developed an outstanding national or international reputation amongst their peers.

Rachel Mann BA (Hons)/MA Philosophy, 1991/1993, Cartmel and Graduate colleges

Ordained into the Church of England in 2005, and recently appointed Archdeacon of Bolton and Salford, Rachel Mann is a high-profile speaker on religious, philosophical and trans matters, as well as an acclaimed author and poet.

She is an advocate for inclusion of the LGBT+ community in the life of the Church. Appointed Poet-in-Residence at Manchester Cathedral in 2009, she held this role until 2017, when she became an Honorary Canon of the Cathedral.

She is Visiting Teaching Fellow in the Manchester Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Scholar in Sarum College. She is a Trustee of Emmanuel Theological College and a member of the Church of England's theological advisory board, the Faith and Order Commission.

Rachel is also a member of the General Synod, and Chair of the House of Clergy in Manchester Diocesan Synod.

Dr John Hogan BA (Hons) History, Furness, 1983

John Hogan recently retired from his role as Registrar and Secretary of Newcastle University, a post he held for 20 years. This represented the culmination of a distinguished and successful career in university administration, including leadership roles at the University of Warwick, where he served as head of the Graduate School and as Academic Registrar and Secretary at Durham University.

An influential and highly respected professional, he served as the first Secretary to the UK Council for Graduate Education, and in 2019 his broader service to higher education was recognised by the Association of University Administrators with a Lifetime Achievement award.

Vanessa Ganguin LLB (Hons) Law, Grizedale, 1992

With more than 25 years of outstanding practice to her name, Vanessa Ganguin is a highly respected leader in the field of immigration law.

A tireless champion for decency and compassion, with an impeccable record of service, Vanessa’s work is consistently highly rated in Chambers’ Legal 500.

Through her career she has handled hundreds of human rights and asylum appeals, acting as a champion for refugees and asylum seekers as they negotiate the complex processes that underpin the UK’s immigration system. Her dynamic and eponymous law firm, established in 2015, has developed an enviable reputation in its work with companies of all sizes, from start-ups to household brands.

Vanessa has become a go-to expert on immigration issues for companies in the fin-tech, manufacturing, entertainment and arts industries, as well as a sought-after expert for the media and government.

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