University exhibition opens eyes to opportunity

Photographs capturing what ‘opportunity’ means to students, staff, pupils and friends of Nottingham Trent University are going on display at Nottingham Contemporary.

The Opportunity: Captured? exhibition features 21 images which were among dozens submitted to the University as part of a project aimed at exploring what opportunity means to the different people the University engages with.

The exhibition’s aim is to raise awareness of NTU’s innovative work on social mobility. It was the first university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge and has been selected to co-run a national evidence centre to determine ‘what works’ in social mobility in higher education.

Entries selected for the exhibition include that of Carly-Emma White, an NTU student who sent in a picture of the prestigious Princeton University in New Jersey, which she had visited to deliver a paper on her PhD research.

Carly, from Clifton, said: “I had found out only a couple of weeks before that I was expecting baby number four, I had the most dreadful pregnancy sickness. However, it was the opportunity of a lifetime and there was no way I was not getting on that plane! I was sick just before giving my paper then went on stage and nailed it. The whole trip was surreal. I couldn't believe that a single mother of three from Nottingham had made it to Princeton to speak in front of academics from all over the world. I will never forget it.”

Other photographs explore overcoming anxiety through art and making life-long friendships through shared experiences at university or summer camps. Head teacher of Cotmanhay Junior School Simon Robinson sent in a photograph of three pupils on a trip who had discovered a ‘trove’ of discarded comics and were pictured eagerly leafing through them. Simon wrote in his submission. “Cotmanhay is an area of very high social deprivation Learning to read in this environment is an ongoing struggle.”

I couldn't believe that a single mother of three from Nottingham had made it to Princeton to speak in front of academics from all over the world. I will never forget it.

Carly Emma-White, Nottingham Trent University student

The University’s Centre for Student and Community Engagement (CenSCE) delivers much of the University’s social mobility work and curated this exhibition.  The Centre has a national reputation for its use of data and research to underpin its innovative, purposeful provision.  The Centre’s work focuses on the value of engagement and each year it runs more than 700 activities, places around 300 NTU undergraduates in local schools, works with over 30,000 pupils and matches 1,000 volunteers to a range of community projects.

Opportunity: Captured will be opened by Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, at a private launch on Thursday, June 27. It will then be open to the public from Friday, June 28 to Sunday, June 30.

Professor Peck said: “The entries received for this exhibition encapsulated brilliantly the concept of opportunity which can be provided, created, withheld, rejected. At Nottingham Trent University we strive to create opportunities for our students, our staff and the community we work with. It was extremely inspiriting to see in these photographs the transformative power of just some of those opportunities.”

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