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Institute for Social Justice

Alumni Stories

How York St John is changing the world – one graduate at a time

York St John alumni smiling

York St John University has a long history of engaging its students in curricula that ask them to consider social justice impacts and inequalities.

This includes placement opportunities with partner organisations – including charities, social enterprises, arts companies, support organisations and schools – providing students with experience working with communities and individuals in a diversity of contexts.

We are aware that as a university one of the biggest impacts that York St John will have on our world is through the choices and careers of our graduates. As Margaret Mead wrote, ‘Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’

We are particularly proud of our alumni who invest their time – whether through working, campaigning or volunteering – into changing the world and striving towards greater social justice.

Over the course of 2020-21, Senior Lecturer in Journalism Jonathan Brown will be working with 2 students-as-researchers, Marcia Pearson and Sarah Scott, to gather stories from York St John alumni working for greater social justice.

These stories will be posted here in 2021 in order to celebrate and recognise the work our alumni contribute to social justice.

If you would like to contribute to this series, please email

Read our alumni stories

Chelsea Jobes close up of face

Chelsea Jobes

For Chelsea Jobes, 3 years study at York St John gave her a taste of what it would be like to work in a helping and practical profession with a "therapeutic edge.”

Helen Sworn headshot, YSJ alumni

Helen Sworn

Helen is the founder and executive director of Chab Dai, a charity described by the Cambodian government as having played a huge part in developing the anti-trafficking movement in the South East Asian country.

Alumni student portrait in front of wall

Jake Furby

Jake received formal recognition for his tireless championing of the rights of York’s LGBTQ+ communities just 8 years after graduating.

Joe Gardham portrait

Joe Gardham

Joe Gardham is responsible for creating some of the funkiest new community spaces seen in York in recent years.

John Wilkinson in school

John Wilkinson

After a chance encounter on a train with a St John’s College student, John Wilkinson, then aged 14, decided that was the place for him to achieve his goal of educating the next generation.

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