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How an alumni-student mentoring relationship has helped two creatives flourish

How an alumni-student mentoring relationship has helped two creatives flourish

15 December 2021

Mentoring is a great way for our alumni community to connect with each other and our students.

We caught up with MBA graduate and podcaster, Ashleigh King, and second-year Fine Art student Jakub Stadnik to find out how their mentoring relationship has helped them both over the past year.

Ash and Jakub first met through their involvement in the TEDxNewcastleUniversity society. They soon began a mentoring relationship, with Ash opening up her professional network and entrepreneurial expertise to support Jakub’s ambitions as an artist.

Ash said: “I help Jakub find and apply for funding to host exhibitions of his artwork, signposting him to national and local organisations like the Arts Council or the NewBridge Project, and proofreading his applications.

“As a creative entrepreneur myself, opening up my own network and making introductions to help Jakub on his way is a really easy way for me to support him. We’re hoping to host one of Jakub’s exhibitions in my creative studio, Flamingo Heights, soon!”

Jakub added: “Ash helps with advice and shows opportunities available to me. She has much more experience in managing her own projects and she knows how to inspire people - she inspired me!

“Ash is not only my mentor, but also a great like-minded friend. I appreciate the most how we inspire each other’s thinking and share our contagious positive energy. In our collaboration she opened my mind by showing me that my designs can be much more ambitious.

“I also enjoy our honest conversations. I feel like with Ash I can take bigger steps towards my dreams and help her do the same.”

Jakub is currently in his second-year of a Fine Art degree at Newcastle University, and is originally from Poland. Once he graduates, Jakub hopes to expand his BFreak Project to educate, inspire and support other creatives around the world. He said:

“I chose to study Fine Art because it gives me a lot of creative freedom in the company of other inspiring students.

“I chose Newcastle because it's a relatively big city and because the University teaches lots of different courses – not just artistic courses so I can make a variety of friends. Ash is one of them.

“After graduating, I have big plans to travel around the world, create highly experimental and inspiring art and become an influential artist to revolutionise our understanding and usage of creativity and brain potential.”

Becoming a mentor hasn’t just been about giving back for Ash, she’s also gained lots from the experience herself.

She explained: “Being around Jakub and his creativity and passion for what he does has inspired me in my own field. I feel more ambitious and motivated by seeing the drive Jakub has. It also gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling to be nurturing creative talent – I love it!”

“I’ve also learnt lots about his heritage and culture, and how the creative industries work in a different country, which has given me lots of food for thought for my own journey!”

Have you ever considered mentoring?

Your experience and expertise can help ensure that students gain the life-changing experience which makes studying at Newcastle so special. There are many ways you can support, including guest lectures and providing workplace visits. Get in touch to express your interest in volunteering.