SSMA Blog: Retail & Consumer Goods Award Winner Ashwinnie Thushyanthan Gives Her Perspective

Ashwinnie Thushyanthan is a final-year student studying Fashion Management at the University of Southampton. Throughout her university career she has worked with luxury fashion brands, and became marketing manager at a small sustainable start-up. One of her highlights was coordinating a new fashion brand for ASOS. She is passionate about social mobility and has hosted fashion-related workshops for students between the ages of thirteen and sixteen.

Tell us a bit about your journey to winning an award at the Student Social Mobility Awards.

I joined upReach in March 2018 during my second year of university. My Programme Coordinator at upReach, Laura, nominated me for the Sector Award for Retail and Consumer Goods. Whilst studying, I have carried out a number of internships and part-time work with luxury brands, such as Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld and Roberto Cavalli, as well as holding a Marketing Manager position at Kapdaa – The Offcut Company, a small sustainable start-up company.  

What was the ceremony like?

It was fantastic to be invited to the House of Lords by Baroness Helena Kennedy, patron of upReach. I really enjoyed meeting other upReach Associates and SSMA nominees who had accomplished such amazing things, and being able to celebrate each other’s achievements. Fatima Benkhaled and Reggie Nelson were our hosts for the evening, and shared their own experiences of social mobility – it was inspiring to hear their stories. We also heard from Sasha Morgan who is the Director of the Social Mobility Commission, and I loved hearing her take on how the arts can act as a tool for unlocking young people’s potential.

How has winning an award affected you?

Getting this award has really given me a boost of confidence in my own abilities. I think it is important to recognise what we’ve achieved, whether big or small. Especially as students, it can be hard to see how much time and effort we put into our work, so recognition like this is really important. I also now have banners and posters about my upReach award around my university campus, which is great too!

What does social mobility mean to you?

I feel very strongly that those from lower socio-economic backgrounds should have equal opportunities within their career, so that they can reach their best potential. As a Saturday Club Ambassador at the Winchester School of Art, I had a fantastic opportunity to make a difference within my local community working with students who would have otherwise not considered going to university, and playing a pivotal role in encouraging interest within the creative industries and highlighting the endless possibilities available to these young people. Schemes like this are really important for widening participation and increasing awareness of the different opportunities available to young people.

What advice would you give to students just starting out at university?

My advice would be to make the most out of all the opportunities available to you at university! The facilities, advice, mentoring, extracurricular activities etc. are all part of your learning. Make the most of your time to join societies, take on internships where possible, start your independent projects, as this is the best time to experiment and find out exactly what you enjoy and what drives you. There are lots of opportunities available only for university students, so take advantage of these as much as possible!

Nominations for the Student Social Mobility Awards 2019 will open in June. To register your interest in nominating, sponsoring or attending the Awards, click here.

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