Graduate of the Year Award Winners

Find out more about our Graduate of Year award winners over the years.

The prestigious AIB/Ulster University Distinguished Graduate award is made to a graduate of the University ‘in recognition of outstanding achievement in their chosen field' and presented during winter graduations.

This award is one way in which we recognise our amazing graduates.

Nominations for 2021

If you know an amazing, talented and worthy Ulster University graduate, who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in their chosen field why not nominate them for this prestigious award for 2021.

The process is now open and nominations should be submitted by completing this official form.

If you have any questions about the process please contact the Development and Alumni Relations Office: sj.irwin@ulster.ac.uk or tel: 028 9536 7486.

Nominations must be received no later than Friday 17 September 2021.

Tara Shine

Winner for 2020

Dr Tara Shine, environmental scientist, policy advisor and science communicator, specialising in the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on people and their rights, has been named as this year’s AIB/Ulster University Distinguished Graduate of the Year.

Find out more about Dr Shine and her amazing career.

Credit: John Allen

A selection of previous winners

Dr Adrian Johnston

2019/20 Award Winner

Michael Boyd

2018/19 Award Winner

Colin Williams

2017/18 Award Winner

Sonia Flynn

2016/17 Award Winner.

Alyson Hogg

2015/16 Award Winner

Colin Walsh

2014/15 Award Winner

Gavin Campbell

2013/14 Award Winner

Colin Davidson

2012/13 Award Winner

Dr Sharon O’Kane

2011/12 Award Winner

  • View full list of Distinguished Graduate Award Winners
    View full list of Distinguished Graduate Award Winners
    YearWinner
    2020 Dr Tara Shine: Adviser climate & sustainability, Public speaker, TV presenter, Author. Co-Founder Change by Degrees
    DPhil 2003 ;BSc Hons Dip Environmental Science with DAS 1994 (Faculty of Life and Health Sciences) Coleraine          
    2019 Dr Adrian Johnston MBE: Director of Digital Catapult Northern Ireland
    PhD Informatics 2007 ;BEng Hons DIS Electronics and Computing 2000
    (Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment) Magee
    2018                      Michael Boyd: Director of Sport, Sport NI
    Advanced Diploma in Management Practice 2005; MSc in Communication, Advertising and Public Relations 2001; BA Hons Sport and Leisure Studies 1999
    (Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, Ulster University Business School) Jordanstown
    2017 Colin Williams: Creative Director of Sixteen South
    BA Hons Design 1995 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Belfast 
    2016 Sonia Flynn: Chief Operating Officer, Hireup
    BA Hons Applied Languages 1997 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Coleraine
    2015 Alyson Hogg MBE: Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Vita Liberata
    BA Hons Philosophy 1996 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Coleraine
    2014 Colin Walsh MBE: Founder and Chief Executive, Crescent Capital NI Ltd
    MBA International Business 1988 (Ulster University Business School) Jordanstown.
    2013 Gavin Campbell: Director Quality, Spirit AeroSystems 
    HND Mechanical Engineering 1985; BSc Hons Engineering 1985
    (Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment) Jordanstown.
    2012 Colin Davidson: world-renowned Artist
    Certificate in Foundation Studies in Art and Design, 1988; BA Hons Design, 1991
    (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Belfast.
    2011 Dr Sharon O’Kane: leading entrepreneur in the biotechnology industry
    BSc Hons Biomedical Sciences 1991; DPhil Biological and Biomedical Sciences 1994
    (Faculty of Life and Health Sciences) Coleraine
    2010 Kyle McCallan MBE: former Irish Senior International Cricketer
    BA Hons Sport and Leisure Studies 1998, PGCE 2001 (Faculty of Life and Health Sciences) Jordanstown
    2009 John McMullan MBE: Chief Executive, Bryson Charitable Group
    HNC Business and Finance 1987, BA Hons Business Studies 1991, MBA 1993
    (Ulster University Business School) Jordanstown.
    2008 Professor Anthony Gallagher: Professor of Human Factors, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
    BSc Hons Psychology 1988 (Faculty of Life and Health Sciences) Jordanstown
    2007 Terence Cross OBE: Founder and Owner, Delta Print & Packaging
    HNC Business Studies 1977 (Ulster University Business School) Jordanstown.
    2006 Dr Brian Irvine MBE:  Composer.
    DPhil Composition 2002 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Jordanstown
    2005 Billy Mawhinney:  Creative Director, WJPM
    BA Hons Graphic Design 1978 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Belfast
    2004 Professor Joe Nellis:  Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Cranfield School of Management
    BSc Hons Economics 1976 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Jordanstown
    2003 Brian Stirling: International Rugby Referee
    BSc Hons Education with Economics 1976 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Coleraine
    2003 Harry Cayton, CBE OBE:  Chief Executive, Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence
    BA Hons English 1971 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Coleraine
    2002 Alison Kitson: Head of Discipline School of Population, University of Adelaide
    BSc Nursing Studies 1979, DPhil 1984 (Faculty of Life and Health Sciences) Coleraine
    2001 Brian Keenan:  Writer
    BA Hons English 1974, MA Anglo-Irish Literature 1985, (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Coleraine
    2000 Kate Hoey: MP for Vauxhall
    Teacher's Diploma in Physical Education 1967, UCPE (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences).
    1999 Declan McGonagle:  Director of National College of Art and Design
    BA Hons Fine Art 1975, PG Diploma Fine Art 1976 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Belfast.
    1998 John McClelland: formerly Chief Fire Officer/CEO NI Fire Brigade
    DMS 1985, BA Public Sector Administration 1987, MBA 1989 (Ulster University Business School) Jordanstown
    1997 Pat Loughrey: Warden at Goldsmiths, University of London
    BA Hons History 1976 (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) Coleraine.