In June, we continued the tradition of celebrating our alumni community with our Alumni Gala Dinner and announcement of our Alumni Award winners 2023! This year marked a first as we had not one, not two, but three awards categories. One new category was the Alumni Community Hero Award, which was presented to Stephen James (BA(Hons) Primary Education (Juniors), 2013).
Amongst a very worthy shortlist, Stephen stood out for his contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of the global crisis, Stephen co-founded Invicta National Academy, an online school employing over 80 qualified teachers to provide free, high-quality education to children of all ages. Stephen is also strongly committed to reducing digital poverty, ensuring that all children have the same access to education.
We caught up with Stephen after the event to learn more.
What does winning the Alumni Community Hero award mean to you?
Winning this award carries immense significance to me. Not only does it measure how far I have come from the young boy receiving free school meals in the 1980s, but it also serves as recognition for the efforts and commitment of the entire team at Invicta National Academy. More than a personal achievement, it is a testament to the collective dedication that’s made the Academy what it is today.
At Canterbury Christ Church University, I was given the tools and support to pursue my passion for education, which have undoubtedly been pivotal in shaping my achievements.
What is next for the Invicta Academy?
Although I am no longer active with Invicta, I am like a proud parent who is seeing his child continue with the values instilled from birth! The work of Invicta is crucial because education is the cornerstone of any thriving society, and the aim was to empower children to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to their communities.
As for the future of Invicta, I very much hope it continues in the spirit in which it was set up – free, high-quality education for young people. This includes supporting Ukrainian children and any other child whose education is disrupted by events out of their control. The goal has always been to extend the reach to as many children as possible, assisting them in pursuing knowledge and personal development.
And what does Christ Church mean to you?
It is a place that holds a special place in my heart. At Canterbury Christ Church University, I was given the tools and support to pursue my passion for education, which have undoubtedly been pivotal in shaping my achievements. The values, knowledge, and experiences I gained during my time there have been instrumental in my career and in shaping the mission of Invicta. Not just the values but also the practical aspects of the teaching tradecraft. This serves as a testament not only to my journey but importantly, to the exceptional quality of higher education delivered by the dedicated staff at CCCU.
My heartfelt thanks to CCCU for this extraordinary recognition, and their tireless efforts in ensuring the Alumni community remains a vibrant and integral part of the wider CCCU family.