Aspiring podcaster and photographer Deimante Aleks has been nominated for a national social mobility award, and will attend an exclusive finalist ceremony at the House of Lords next month.
The Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) Photography graduate, who attended one of the university’s first in-person Graduation Ceremonies for two years in July, has been selected from 300 nominees to attend a prestigious finalist awards ceremony at Parliament in September.
Identifying as someone from a lower-income family background, Deimante was shortlisted as a result of her work in the Creative Industries. Her nomination submission highlights her social documentary series on migration, her work to document a Black Lives Matter march in Northampton, and two Extinction Rebellion climate change protests in Bournemouth.
The Student Social Mobility Awards showcase the incredible achievements of undergraduates from lower socio-economic backgrounds from across the UK. The awards recognise students who have excelled in their studies and beyond, and shown great potential to excel as they launch their careers.
After initially living with her grandmother in Lithuania while her parents found migrant work in Cornwall, Deimante moved to the UK aged seven, and soon became interested in using creative subjects to improve her language skills. Despite her school in Northampton not offering photography as a subject in their curriculum, her mother saved for a camera and Deimante developed her skills, later applying to study Photography at AUB.
After struggling with anxiety throughout university and teenage life, Deimante began her podcast series Panic & Me with her friend Olivia, and over the pandemic, she worked with a charity to offer help and support to those struggling with isolation and loneliness.
Deimante said: “I feel that through being involved in so many initiatives and causes, my own understanding of the world gets better. I’m so interested in education and helping people; showing people to show them that things like climate change are happening, and helping them to think about how they can take action to help too.
“Migration has also been a big topic of mine because people perhaps don’t realise how much of a difficult journey this can be, and they don’t consider reasons why people might be seeking out a better life.
“Initially, I wanted to travel back to Lithuania to explore the theme of migration, and how migration away from the country has impacted society there. But with COVID-19 making travel difficult, I realised that my own family was perhaps the best example of migration in action, so they became my subjects instead.”
Deimante, who is currently working in a part-time role while setting up her new photography business, has decided to live in the local area after finishing her studies at AUB, and credits the university for some of her success: “I think there’s definitely something about studying at an Arts University.
“Before AUB, I was shooting images and enjoying the ways I could edit things, but at uni, I looked deeper into meaning, which I found challenging at first, but this made my images so much more powerful. Migration and climate change have become a part of me, and I really like that I can explore these important themes through my work.
Set up by social mobility organisation upReach, the awards judging panel comprises twelve leading representatives from the fields of academia, education, the creative industries, and business, and brings a vast wealth of experience from a range of leading social mobility organisations.
John Craven, Chief Executive of upReach, said: “This year, the effects of the pandemic have exacerbated existing socio-economic inequalities, making aspirational events like the Student Social Mobility Awards more important than ever before. The Awards shine a spotlight on inspirational role models who have often shown incredible resilience, determination and initiative to succeed despite the challenges of the pandemic, and often overcoming barriers linked with coming from a less-privileged background.”
Sponsored by Bank of America, the awards will be announcing shortlist winners on 9 September at the House of Lords, and via UpReach’s social media channels.
You can see more of Deimante's work on her photography website