At the age of 21, entrepreneur Laura Devaney is getting ahead in business thanks to her arts degree – gained 30 years after her mother completed her studies at the same campus.
Laura runs two new businesses with her partner Cameron Martin, who is also a member of the University of Cumbria’s alumni association, giving the night-time economy in Carlisle a welcome boost.
The Lounge Bar and nightclub Bomb Shelter, in the city’s Botchergate, have both opened in the last six months.
More recently, drama and musical theatre graduate Laura has launched Dream It Events, an interactive character performance company aimed at filling a gap in the children’s entertainment market.
Laura joined 1,000 fellow graduands honoured at Carlisle Cathedral last week. BA Drama and Musical Theatre graduate Laura, from Blackburn in Lancashire, also received the community engagement prize awarded by the university’s Institute of the Arts.
She received the prize in recognition of how she had transferred skills developed whilst at university to launch commercial ventures.
Of her entrepreneurial flair, Laura, who was head girl of the former Norden High School (now part of The Hyndburn Academy), Rishton, near Blackburn, said: “I didn’t want to leave university and think ‘what next?’ and University of Cumbria has helped me develop the skills and confidence to do what I’m doing now.
“I can’t thank the University of Cumbria team enough, particularly tutors Jonathan Millican and Nick Butters at the Institute of the Arts. They are amazing and have been so supportive of me. There are no real words.”
Laura’s proud mother Sue (nee Smith) was among those watching, three decades after completing her own course – a HND in graphic design – at the same Brampton Road campus, which was then the Cumbria Institute of the Arts.
Sue said: “I’ve come back to Carlisle a few times since finishing here myself; it always feels like home. I stayed here in Carlisle after leaving uni and now I’m back often to see Laura.
“We’ve virtually lived in the same streets and there’s been other similarities; it’s been a real mirror image in a lot of ways. I’m immensely proud of her.”
Musical theatre lecturer Nick Butters said: “As an actor Laura is extremely talented and I’m so thrilled to see her go on enjoy success in this way.
“We’ve supported Laura as much as we can and she has flown, and she’s flying now. She deserves every bit of success she’s getting.”
- Were you a student at Cumbria Institute of the Arts? Contact University of Cumbria’s alumni association via email at email@example.com or telephone 01228 616391.