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Notable former Students' Union members

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Sarah Graham, co-founder of the Amy Winehouse Foundation

After graduating from Goldsmiths' in 1993, with a BA in Anthropology & Communications, Sarah had a successful career in radio and TV. She worked at BBC Radio 5, Radio 1 and directed for Channel 4, CBBC and BBC Entertainment. 

Sadly her career was cut short by addictions which nearly killed her. After checking into rehab in 2001, she became passionate about helping others to overcome their issues and is now recognised as a leading authority in the area of substance misuse by children and young adults.

"Although my addictions ended my career as a TV director, the experience of rehab and my ongoing journey of sobriety have been incredibly rich and rewarding. I’m a better, stronger, more loving and compassionate person now. 

I’m now a therapist and auricular acupuncturist. My company, Sarah Graham Solutions, believes in working holistically with our clients; everyone is unique and no two healing processes are the same. However, I still get to use my media skills, just in different ways. I’m a spokesperson for talktofrank.com and I regularly appear on TV and radio, educating young people and parents about drugs and addiction issues. One of my great passions is early intervention; we currently have no rehab centres for teens in the UK (crazy but true!) As a result we’re fundraising to open a new world-class rehab.

As an expert in stimulants drugs treatment I gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee cocaine report- along with Mitch Winehouse. This led to me helping to set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation- giving them the steer for their recovery work; and assisting them with drugs education in schools. In 2010 I was appointed to sit on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). I feel honoured to be a part of the committee’s important work; especially as I am the only person who is open about being in recovery themselves sitting on the ACMD. 

Goldsmiths introduced me to some of the most interesting people and ideas I’ve had the good fortune to interact with. The college really opened my eyes to the richness and diversity of cultures and a firm belief that creativity comes from that mix."

Russell Profitt MBE

During the 1960s, Russell Profitt played a leading role in student politics and was instrumental in progressing civil rights campaigning. As well as holding the title of Goldsmiths’ first black Students’ Union President, he was also one of the very first BME Students’ Union Officers in the whole of the UK.

After graduating, Russell worked as a teacher and he has gone on to spend his career serving local communities and supporting local regeneration.

“I had no idea what to expect from a university education, as no one else from my immediate family had ever got that far before. So, as someone whose head was still resonating with thoughts of my Caribbean origins, I was a little anxious about what life would be like at Goldsmiths, which, somehow, I managed to get into,” Russell said.

“But, once there and in the swing of College life, I loved it. There, possibly for the first time in my life, I felt that who I was, and what I thought, actually mattered. Most of all I found myself in with a group of people, who simply accepted that they were capable and able to do or achieve anything they wanted to, just by believing that ‘in life all things are possible’! That self confidence and belief ‘rubbed off’, and has been motivational to me, throughout the inevitable trials and tribulations of life. 

“I met so many students and lecturers with backgrounds and views very different to mine, which I found at first challenging, and then later motivational. That, and an inspirational college experience, helped me to find a real voice and a direction for my life.   

“I was active in student politics at a time when the struggle for civil rights was new and very difficult, and not well received by the powers that be. But, fortunately, I felt supported and encouraged by many and so pushed on. Looking back now, I feel pleased that others have followed so the struggles have not been in vain, even though so much more remains to be done.

“Some of the highlights of my career have been playing leadership roles across the student movement in the sixties; helping to advance the campaign for fair political representation for women and BME communities during the seventies and eighties; running schools, and later on council departments in London; and running for Parliament during the seventies and eighties - even though I missed out on selection/election a few times!”

Keir Simmons, journalist and former Students' Union President

Keir spent a year as President of the Students’ Union before embarking on a career in media, most recently as a correspondent for NBC news. He was previously UK Editor for ITV News, where he covered stories including the 2004 tsunami and the 7 July London bombings.

"If you want to work in the media, it’s your drive and determination that count the most, not the degree you do. But the BA Media and Communications with Sociology course at Goldsmiths gave me unique insights into the industry I now work in – insights that I still use 15 years later.

I didn’t get a single A grade for GCSE or A-Level and walked away from College with a First. That says something about what a great place it was. I have no doubt that it is still the same alternative-thinking innovative hotbed of people who wouldn’t fit in anywhere else.

My lecturers were one of the reasons Goldsmiths was so dear to me, especially James Curran, Tim Crook and Paul Gilroy. They all took a special interest in helping me, for which I will be eternally grateful."