sparqs has a team of nine staff members, most of whom are based in our main office in Edinburgh (hosted by NUS Scotland), with one staff member based in Inverness.
We also employ a number of Associate Trainers each year on a part-time basis, a team of students who mainly deliver course rep training for us.
If you wish to contact any of our team, please call the sparqs office on 0131 622 6599 or by the mobile numbers listed.
To email a member of staff use the following format: email@example.com
Main staff team
Director: Eve Lewis (she/her)
Mobile: 07813 014679
As Director of sparqs, Eve is responsible for managing the agency on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. She provides strategic direction and management support to the sparqs team, and maintains close links with other sector agencies in Scotland, across the rest of the UK and internationally. Eve took up her post within sparqs in July 2010. Previously, she was Education and Welfare Manager at Heriot-Watt University Students’ Association for eighteen years, managing their non-commercial activities including their extensive work on academic representation.
Senior Development Consultant: Simon Varwell (he/him)
Mobile: 07815 938966
Normal work days: Monday to Thursday
Simon leads on our institutional support, working with colleagues to align our work and projects with the student engagement priorities of institutions and students’ associations. This involves supporting Development Consultants on their institutional-facing activities and responding to common themes across the sector. Simon leads on sparqs’ wide range of staff development activities, our joint work with NUS Charity on the Developing College Students’ Associations project and our contributions to governance development, and he is the officer to our Joint Advisory Group. He has previously worked for UHI Millennium Institute (the precursor to the University of the Highlands and Islands) and Glasgow University SRC. He is a Politics and International Relations graduate of the University of Aberdeen, where he was President of the Students’ Association in 2000-2001, and in 2021 he completed the University of Winchester’s postgraduate MA in Student Engagement in Higher Education. Simon has been with sparqs since 2007 and is based in Inverness.
Simon is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - all of the UHI colleges.
Universities - UHI, Glasgow School of Art and University of St Andrews.
Development Consultant: Stef Black (she/her)
Mobile: 07977 980867
Normal work days: Tuesday to Thursday
Stef leads on sparqs’ work around student engagement with national sector agencies, learning, teaching, and quality, as well as sector policy developments. She oversees sparqs' work in supporting institutions regarding their student engagement with reviews and quality arrangements, as well as working with the sector on developments in those areas, such as the SFC’s Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability. She is responsible for our annual That’s Quality! residential training events for both university and college officers. She leads on our work around Student Mental Health and Wellbeing and is a member of the Scottish Government Student Mental Health and Wellbeing working group. Stef is a graduate of Bangor University, Wales and has previously worked at University of Glasgow SRC and University of Stirling Students’ Union. She joined sparqs in March 2017.
Stef is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - Forth Valley
Universities - Stirling
Development Consultant: Megan Brown (she/her)
Mobile: 07469 354245
Normal work days: Monday to Friday
Megan’s main area of work is supporting students to engage in national policy developments in learning and teaching, most recently the SFC’s Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability and the SQA and Education Scotland Review. She is the sparqs' lead for the QAA Scotland Enhancement Themes, including co-delivery of the Student-led Project alongside QAA. Megan oversees sparqs’ equality, diversity and inclusion work, including specific remit for supporting student engagement in BSL Plans and working with the sector to develop effective student engagement for articulating students. She is also responsible for supporting sector projects related to microcredentials and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Megan is a former member of QAA UK’s Student Strategic Advisory Committee and sparqs’ University Advisory Group. She is a graduate of The University of Edinburgh and the University of East Anglia and previously worked at Edinburgh University Students’ Association. Megan joined sparqs in September 2019.
Megan is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and SRUC.
Universities - Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, SRUC and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Development Consultant: Justin Walker (he/him)
Mobile: 07880 192722
Normal work days: Monday to Friday
Justin is heavily involved in Course Rep Training, including the development and dissemination of our introductory training materials. He also leads the training and preparation of our team of Associate Trainers. He has resumed our project related to Apprentice Voice, exploring representational structures for apprentices and work-based learners. Justin also coordinates sparqs’ support for the work of SQA, helping college students contribute to SQA decision-making, including decisions made in response to the circumstances of the pandemic. He also analyses the anonymous data we receive from course reps within our project Monitoring the Diversity of Course Reps, and continues to review our communications for course reps that were initiated at the start of the pandemic. He is also developing a set of metrics to monitor the progress of the Developing College Students Associations project, and liaises with sector partners in relation to Learning for and through Sustainability. Justin has a rich background in educational leadership and quality management, having served as teacher, headteacher and consultant in the UK, The Gambia, and Chile. He is a graduate of the University of Birmingham and the University of Sheffield. He also holds the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and the MSc in Development Management from the Open University. Justin joined sparqs in August 2019.
Justin is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - New College Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian.
Universities - Abertay, Robert Gordon and Heriot-Watt.
Development Consultant: Gloria Laurini (she/her)
Mobile: 07513 712586
Normal work days: Monday to Friday
Gloria’s work areas focus on supporting all Scottish institutions and students’ associations in keeping up-to-date with the current quality arrangements for the sector; delivering sessions on joint strategy to pilot institutions within the framework of the Developing Colleges Students’ Associations project; revising the current training available for the Course Reps in Supported Education, and co-ordinating the Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN), which is currently meeting monthly to provide regular support to staff while the sector recovers from the impact of the pandemic. She has a background in student engagement in colleges, with focus on representation structures, in the capacity of Student Engagement Co-ordinator within Fife College Students’ Association. Gloria completed the MA in Student Engagement in Higher Education at the University of Winchester in 2021. Previously she worked as a trainer, delivering transferrable skills courses, mainly in the private sector, and has a degree in English and German translation and interpretation. Gloria started working for sparqs in September 2021.
Gloria is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - City of Glasgow College, Glasgow Clyde, Glasgow Kelvin, West College Scotland and Dundee & Angus
Universities - GCU, Strathclyde and QMU
Development Consultant: Patrycja Mitrut (she/her)
Mobile: 07966 104056
Normal work days: Monday to Friday
Patrycja leads on sparqs PGT and PGR provision, projects relating to equitable practices and widening participation as well as supporting institutions with strategic planning and enhancement activities. She convenes The National Education Officers’ Network (NEON) and leads on the creation of a National Standard for Online and Blended Learning alongside the Scottish Funding Council and Jisc. Patrycja also leads on our Managing the Diversity of Course Reps project and works with QAA Scotland on an Anti-Racism Curriculum Project as well as the Student-led Project under the umbrella of Scotland’s Enhancement Themes work. Patrycja is due to graduate this summer with an MSc in Digital Education from The University of Edinburgh. Prior to her current role she worked at The University of Edinburgh and at the Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences. She also has experience managing projects in the private sector and co-ordinated educational activities at Georgia’s Ministry of Education. Patrycja joined sparqs in October 2021.
Patrycja is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges: Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Fife, North East Scotland College and Newbattle Abbey
Universities: Edinburgh Napier, UWS and The OU
Business Manager: Nicola Cameron (nee McIntosh) (she/her)
Mobile: 07785 626159
Normal work days: Monday-Thursday
Nicola manages the Central Support Team, which involves ensuring everything in the office runs efficiently and effectively. She also monitors the finances and deals with recruitment and human resources. Prior to sparqs, Nicola has worked in the finance sector and the civil service. She has worked with sparqs since 2006.
Communications Co-ordinator: Ali McDade (she/her)
Mobile: 07585 969882
Normal work days: Monday to Friday
Ali's role includes data management and communications, including sparqs' publications, database management and maintenance of the website. She is also responsible for co-ordinating attendance at sector meetings for sparqs, NUS Scotland and student reps. Ali is a graduate of Edinburgh Napier University and her background is in learning and development co-ordination and project co-ordination. She joined sparqs in November 2010.
Central Support Team Co-ordinator: Sarah Davidson (she/her)
Mobile: 07585 969881
Normal work days: Monday to Wednesday
Sarah is responsible for the sparqs Course Representative Training bookings system. Managing events and processing finances are also other key areas of her role. Before joining sparqs, Sarah worked in the finance sector. She is our longest serving employee, having been with sparqs since its inception in 2003.
Our team of Associate Trainers for 2021-22 brought a wealth of experience from their studies and course rep activity within their institutions. Their biographies can be viewed below.
Details of the 2022-23 team will be published soon!
You can find out more here about the Associate Trainer scheme generally and how it works.
To email an Associate Trainer use the following format: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2021-22 Associate Trainers:
Clare Hunter (she/her)
Clare is currently studying Careers Guidance at the University of the West of Scotland. She has studied at UWS for 7 years; her previous study includes BA Business and she has also completed a Masters in International Marketing Management. She held the post of Vice President Student Development with SAUWS for two years and was a course rep for two years during her degree. Clare was also a course rep at college when she studied Architectural Technology to degree level. Her career goal is to become a lecturer in HE/FE and she feels that her role as an AT adds to her already varied skills and employment experience. Clare has also worked as a student guide, a student mentor and as a registry assistant, so she is very student orientated, with a particular interest around widening access and articulation. This is her fifth year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.
Caraleigh McKenzie-Miller (she/her)
Caraleigh has recently completed an engineering apprenticeship, during which time she studied at Glasgow Clyde College to achieve an HND in Mechanical Engineering. This year she begins a graduate apprenticeship, combining work-based learning with studying Engineering: Design and Manufacture at the University of Strathclyde. She is currently a STEM Ambassador, working with children and young people to encourage them to consider STEM subjects and careers. Caraleigh has been a course rep at various points throughout her studies and this is her third year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.
Andie Rae (she/her)
Andie has recently completed her accelerated English law degree at the University of Dundee. Her passion for student representation is demonstrated through her experience as Vice President of the Dundee University Life Science Society, Vice President of Biomedical Sciences and as a Student Ambassador for the university. Andie hopes to pursue a legal career in London in the future. This is her third year as an Associate Trainer with sparqs. She loves the opportunity to meet new people from a variety of places and academic backgrounds, and helping them to meet their representative potential.
Irina Stoica (nee Bogdan) (she/her)
Before moving to Scotland, Irina completed a Teaching Degree, was a course representative for four years, and a trainer for the Speech Therapists Association of Romania. She is studying an MSc in Digital Marketing at Robert Gordon University, after graduating with a first class BA (Hons) in Fashion Management in 2020. For two years, she volunteered as the President of the Creative and Cultural Business Society, and the Vice-President of Kaim Shop for RGU Go Green. Most recently, she worked as Student Ambassador and Student School Officer for the School of Creative and Cultural Business at RGU during 20-2021. Over the past few years, Irina has engaged with her university’s enhancement processes, her efforts being recognised with a Pride in Partnership Award in 2019, Full Scarlet Award in 2020, and Student Leadership Award and Student School Officer of the Year Award in 2021. She also won RGU Creative Trail in a team effort and achieved the highest level of the Scottish Innovative Student Award Programme in 2020. Committed to continuous learning and professional development, Irina is enthusiastic, hard-working, dedicated, resilient and ambitious. This is her third year as a sparqs Associate Trainer, and she feels this role will add to her already varied skills and experience.
Kirsty Turkington (she/her)
Kirsty is in her final year studying Social Sciences at the University of the Highlands and Islands. She was a committed course rep for the first two years of her degree and has a long history of activism and organising. At high school, Kirsty was frequently in trouble for skipping classes to attend anti-war demos. Over the summer, Kirsty worked in mental health social care and is currently the elected chair of Care and Support Workers Organise! She has chaired and spoken at many national meetings over the last year, including at People Before Profit events (over Zoom, of course). Kirsty is passionate about empowering the student voice, and she is looking forward to continuing passing on her representation and organising skills in her role with sparqs. This is her third year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.
Vincent Waters (he/him)
Vincent is a mature student, studying Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University. He is the elected Chair of the University Representative Body, Student Voice, and a member of the University Senate. His background is in business, where he led companies in the environmental sector since the 1990s. During that time, he served as President of his Chamber of Commerce and was active in business networks and representation bodies. Vincent has served as a Trustee on several charities, both local and national, and was responsible for relationships with Government and strategic partners for a national Scottish charity. He has mentored business start-ups, trained people in the worlds of business, politics and charities, and holds a Government appointment in the criminal justice system in Scotland. Vincent has trained course reps in his institution and is a consultant trainer in its Student Leadership Programme. This is his second year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.
Alan Buchan (he/him)
Alan is currently studying a postgraduate diploma teaching qualification in further education at the University of Stirling. Alan graduated with a BA(hons) in Heritage and Tourism from the University of Stirling in 2020. Returning to education as a mature student, Alan spent the first two years of his degree studying at Forth Valley College, where he held the role of class rep for two years, three years as a Student Member of the college board, and was twice elected as sabbatical Student President. Alan is in his second year as an Associate Trainer and also works with Education Scotland as a Student Team Member.
Nurina Sharmin (she/her)
Having completed her BEng (Hons) in Aircraft Engineering and Air Transport Operations at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), Nurina is now completing her MSc in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Leeds. She is an academic with a research background in Sustainable Aviation, Alternative Aviation Fuels and Applied Aerodynamics as well as Computational Modelling and Fuel Simulations. Nurina is also the Industry Research Lead at Flight Crowd, working on the education of the public on UAM and vertical mobility. She is also an associate member of various professional registered bodies and is a STEM Ambassador. While at UHI, Nurina also worked within academia and education management and has a strong background in EDI and championing the rights of minority groups. She has been a class rep and held the position of Vice President for Education and Engagement, alongside a role as a Student Team Member with Education Scotland. Nurina is now in her second year delivering Course Rep Training with sparqs.
Lucy Hogben (she/her)
Lucy is a mature student, who has returned to university in Stirling to study Events Management. On leaving school, she completed a degree in Illustration and Printmaking at the University of Dundee and worked for many years in retail management. Now it is time for a change, and she is enjoying returning to her studies whilst taking an active role within the university, as both a course representative and also as a student ambassador, working to promote the university and recruit new students. This is her first year working as a sparqs Associate Trainer.
Elena Deamant (they/their)
Elena (Lane) is from Chicago, Illinois and is beginning their third year of a Social Policy and Politics MA at The University of Edinburgh. They served as programme representative for Social Policy in 2020-21 and valued the opportunity to deepen connections with both peers and staff. Being actively involved in student societies, including orchestra and debate, they are committed to fostering strong student-led engagement. While at university, Lane has achieved two Edinburgh Awards, earned by combining professional and leadership development activities with reflective practices. Lane has a fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice, where they are learning about governance, organising and conflict resolution strategies. An intern with Peace and Justice Scotland since September 2019, Lane has published several feature articles and web posts on contemporary and historical political issues. They also volunteer at a community garden and in local childcare in Edinburgh. They are thrilled to be in their first year as an Associate Trainer with sparqs.
Susana Woitzik (she/her)
Susana is in her 4th year of studying Marketing and Business at Abertay University. Originally from Germany, she moved to Scotland in August 2018 for her degree. She has been acting as class rep for her course since her first year and has also been elected treasurer for the Literary Society for the third time. In 2019, she attended the NUS Scotland Conference as a student delegate, sparking further interest in student representation. This is her first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.
Emmajane Kingaby (she/her)
Emmajane has a managerial background and chose to return to education. For her first year, she studied Art and Design at North East Scotland College. She then utilised the degree link pathway and began studying at Robert Gordon University, where she is currently practicing her BA (hons) year in Contemporary Art Practice. As a Student School Officer at RGU, Emmajane is responsible for ensuring effective representation of students studying at Grays School of Art. Her role includes working with Student Representatives, together encouraging feedback, listening to feedback and communicating student feedback across the school. Her role involves working in partnership with the school, university and union to make enhancements based on feedback. Emmajane is also responsible for co-ordinating an enhancement project and participates in school-wide meetings, including student staff liaison meetings, school academic board meetings and various focus groups. She looks forward to meeting new people, sharing experiences and exploring ways to work together to help make improvements. This is Emmajane’s first year as an Associate Trainer with sparqs.
Michelle Denoon (she/her)
Michelle has just finished studying the Certificate of Forestry at the Scottish School of Forestry, UHI Inverness, and is now moving on to the Advanced Certificate of Forestry in 2021-22. She enjoys her forestry courses and would like to work in the forestry sector before going back to teach as a lecturer at the Scottish School of Forestry. She currently works as a trainee fencer to get herself into the forestry industry. Michelle volunteered as a course rep during her Certificate of Forestry course, which inspired her to join the sparqs team. She hopes that the experiences and skills she will gain in the role will give her good stead for when she becomes a lecturer. This is her first year as an Associate Trainer.
Daniel Moore (he/him)
Daniel is studying his BA in Media and Communication Year 4 at Glasgow Caledonian University, after successfully completing an HNC and HND in both Marketing Communications and Advertising and Public Relations at City of Glasgow College. He is the current Vice President of GCU’s Marketing Association Society (MACU). His job history has mostly consisted of working in an education establishment, in which Daniel previously held the position of Student Vice President and Student President at New College Lanarkshire’s Students’ Association, through which he also sat on the Lanarkshire regional board of management. Daniel was awarded with the Healthy Body Healthy Mind Award for his contribution through working in partnership with fellow New College Lanarkshire students on their stop smoking campaign, the first President of the college to receive this recognition. He has also won awards for his work on the NUS FE Fair Attendance Survey, as well as a sparqs’ Student Engagement Award in 2017 for New College Lanarkshire’s Be Engaged Programme. This is his first year as a sparqs’ Associate Trainer, which he believes will be a fantastic opportunity to apply all the skills, knowledge, and life experience he has obtained throughout this career. Daniel hopes to inspire others to follow in the footsteps of becoming an Associate Trainer.
Chelbi Hillan (she/her)
Chelbi is studying Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Strathclyde and has a passion for student representation which was ignited many years ago when she joined university. She believes every student has a right to have their voice heard and that representatives can drive forward the enhancement of education in their own institution and on a national level. She is always excited to work with students on projects which help their education work for them and to ensure they get the most out of their studies. Chelbi has been involved in student representation for over five years and has fulfilled roles such as class rep, halls rep, faculty rep and Vice President Education during her time at university. This is her first year working at sparqs and she is excited to transfer knowledge and skills developed during her time as a rep into her new role as an Associate Trainer.
Carlotta Canavesio (she/her)
Carlotta (Cho) is a fourth-year student at Abertay University in Dundee. She's in her honours year of BSc Food & Consumer Sciences; during her academic path, she has been course rep twice, and division rep for the Food and Engineering division of the university. She worked closely with the SA on student issues, worked in the university's student centre, and founded and was president for two years of the Food Society at Abertay. In her country of origin, she took part in different non-profit projects: she was active part of a theatre company for 14 years, took part in a voice-acting project as a mean of expression for neurodivergent people, and was part of the organisers of the Turin Gay Pride of 2016. Aside from studying, she currently directs a national NGO for the use and development of industrial hemp as a substitute to non-sustainable materials. This is her first year as an Associate Trainer with sparqs and she is keen to help others to be valuable course reps and make representation in education matter.