Author Archives: ubiard001

A student’s guide to celebrating Pride in and around Birkbeck

Sidhant Maharaj is an intersectional queer feminist activist from Fiji, currently pursuing their Masters in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. 

Greetings, I’m Sidhant! I thought Pride Month would be an opportune moment to explore the vibrant and inclusive community surrounding Birkbeck. London, known for its rich history and diversity, offers an array of activities and events that celebrate LGBTQ+ pride and promote intersectionality.

What is Pride and why is it important?

Pride is an annual celebration of LGBTQ+ identities, cultures, and communities. It originated as a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Pride Month, celebrated every June, serves as a reminder of the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community, advocating for equal rights, acceptance, and visibility.

Pride is important because it fosters a sense of belonging and community among LGBTQ+ individuals, promoting acceptance and love. It provides a platform to address ongoing issues of discrimination, inequality, and violence against LGBTQ+ people. Pride events and parades are not just festive occasions; they are acts of resistance and solidarity, reinforcing the message that everyone deserves to live authentically and without fear. Celebrating Pride means honouring the past, advocating for the present, and inspiring hope for a future where diversity is celebrated, and equality is a reality for all.

Here’s a guide to making the most of Pride Month in and around Birkbeck.

  1. Participate in the London Pride Parade

A rainbow pride flag is being held parallel to the floor as marchers in a pride parade move through crowds.

The annual London Pride Parade is a must-attend event, drawing thousands from around the globe. This year, the parade will take place on June 29th. The parade, known for its exuberant floats, music, and performances, highlights the strength and unity of the LGBTQ+ community. As a student, consider joining one of the university groups marching in the parade, which is a fantastic way to show solidarity and meet like-minded individuals.

Here is a list of other upcoming Pride events you should look out for:

  • London Trans+ Pride:London Trans+ Pride will take place on Saturday 27 July 2024
  • UK Black Pride:UK Black Pride is once again taking place in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Sunday 11 August 2024
  • Bi Pride UK 2024Bi Pride is taking place on Saturday 31 August at the University of West London, Ealing
  1. Visit the LGBTQ+ Cultural Institutions

London is home to several museums and galleries that celebrate LGBTQ+ history and culture:

 

  • The British Museum: Discover artifacts and stories that illuminate the lives of LGBTQ+ people throughout history. Join their LGBTQ+ tours for a unique perspective. The British museum has a number of Pride events this year, be sure to check them out.

  • Queer Britain: The UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum, Queer Britain, located in King’s Cross, celebrates the stories, people, and places that have shaped the queer community.
  • Bishopsgate Institute: Home to the UK’s most comprehensive LGBTQ+ archives, this institute hosts regular exhibitions and talks on queer history.
  1. Engage with Local LGBTQ+ Organizations

Connecting with local organizations can enrich your experience and provide support networks:

  • Stonewall: A prominent LGBTQ+ rights charity, Stonewall offers volunteer opportunities and campaigns that you can get involved in.

  1. Attend Queer Performances and Events

Theatre, performance art and queer safe spaces play a crucial role in LGBTQ+ culture. London offers numerous queer-themed activities:

  • The Common Press: Located in Bethnal Green, The Common Press is a community-oriented space that hosts a variety of events including queer readings, performances, and workshops. It’s a fantastic venue for experiencing grassroots LGBTQ+ culture and arts.

 

  1. Explore Queer Literature

Literature offers profound insights into the queer experience. Check out these local literary spots:

  1. Participate in Academic Discussions and Workshops

Birkbeck itself hosts various seminars, workshops, and discussions on gender and sexuality:

  1. Enjoy Social Spaces and Nightlife

London’s nightlife is diverse and welcoming:

  • Heaven: One of London’s most famous gay clubs, offering vibrant nightlife experiences with themed nights and renowned DJs.
  • G-A-Y Bar: Located in Soho, this bar is perfect for meeting friends and enjoying a night out in a lively, inclusive environment.
  • Ku Bar: Also in Soho, Ku Bar is known for its friendly atmosphere and fantastic cocktails.
  1. Explore Queer-Friendly Cafés and Restaurants

Soho, in particular, is brimming with LGBTQ+-friendly eateries:

  1. Support Queer Businesses and Initiatives

Supporting local queer-owned businesses and initiatives helps strengthen the community:

  • Pride Pop-Ups: During Pride Month, various pop-up shops and markets feature queer entrepreneurs showcasing their products.

Final Thoughts

As a student at Birkbeck, University of London, you are part of a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive community. Engaging with the activities and events listed above will not only enhance your understanding of LGBTQ+ issues but also help you forge lasting connections. Embrace the spirit of Pride, celebrate diversity, and continue to advocate for equality and intersectionality in all aspects of life.

More information: 

Share

The future faces of law: a closer look at two rising legal scholars

Meet the Birkbeck law students in receipt of prestigious scholarships to aid them in their journey to becoming barristers.  

Law students hoping to become barristers must undertake the Bar Professional Training Course, which serves as the vocational stage of training required for entry to the Bar of England and Wales. Upon successful completion of their course, graduates are eligible to be called to the Bar and embark on their careers as barristers.

This year, two students from Birkbeck’s Law School have been awarded prestigious scholarships towards their Bar courses by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, one of the four renowned Inns of Court. Membership in one of these Inns is a prerequisite for individuals aspiring to be called to the Bar and pursue a career as a barrister in England and Wales. 

Viran Solanki, studying LLB Law at Birkbeck, and recipient of Middle Temple’s Jerry Parthab Singh Scholarship to help fund his Bar Course. 

What attracted you to studying law?

I have worked in various roles within the court service since 2018, initially at a County Court and currently at the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration & Asylum Chamber). Witnessing first hand on a day-to-day basis the way in which barristers used their specialist knowledge to make a real difference in an individual or family’s lives motivated me to pursue a career in law.

Why did you choose to study Law at Birkbeck?

The flexible studying options really appealed. Studying here allowed me to work full-time while studying across four years in the evenings. 

With the flexibility afforded to you through your studies, how do you spend your days? My full time is as a Legal Officer in the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration & Asylum Officer). This involves working to delegated judicial functions to effectively case manage immigration appeals, identifying and resolving barriers to case progression. I’ve also found that I’ve been applying legal research skills learnt at Birkbeck to real world scenarios to communicate complex procedural matters in a simple way. I have also presided in several Case Management Appointment hearings, with the goal of effectively narrowing issues in dispute and ensuring compliance prior to a substantive appeal hearing. 

What’s been your favourite thing about your academic journey so far?  

The opportunity to meet new people from all kinds of backgrounds and careers has been wonderful. I definitely would not have achieved much throughout the last few years without the support of colleagues and tutors!

What are your plans for the future?

Results permitting, I plan on studying the Bar Course at the Inns of Court College of Advocacy from September 2024, following which the plan is to find pupillage and qualify as a barrister specialising in immigration law!

How do you think law can make a difference in the world?

People generally interact with the face of the law when they are in need and often at a low point in their life, be it after an arrest or as a victim of crime, a particularly bitter family dispute or in an immigration context as they flee persecution in their home country. Law makes a difference for these people by ensuring that they are able to have the fairest assessment of their dispute or issue. I hope that by developing skills grounded in my studies at Birkbeck, I will be able to contribute to assisting those that are in need.

What does the scholarship mean to you?

The scholarship means a lot! Of course, the financial assistance towards the paying of fees for the Bar Course is greatly appreciated, but also coming through a difficult application and interview process has in a sense validated the long nights at the library and studies leading up to this point. Being awarded the scholarship has reiterated the sense that the path towards becoming a barrister is the right one for me, and has motivated me to continue to strive towards this goal.  

Jack Soares Mullen, studying the Graduate Diploma in Law at Birkbeck and recipient of Middle Temple’s Harmsworth scholarship which will fully cover his Bar Course. 

What attracted you to studying law?

I worked as a teacher for three years and then, two years ago, changed careers and joined the civil service. In my current role I work for the Judicial Office and work closely with a number of judges which has exposed me to the workings of the justice system, and this sparked an interest in becoming a barrister. 

Why did you choose to study Law at Birkbeck? 

I wanted to be able to continue working in my current role and, with classes held in the evening, Birkbeck provided the perfect opportunity to study alongside my work commitments.

With your classes taking place in the evenings, how do you spend your days?

I’ve continued to work full-time alongside studying full time this year which takes up most of time. Even so, I have managed to complete two mini pupillages and marshalled some judges this academic year. A highlight was marshalling two high court judges at Bristol Crown Court, observing two complex murder trials.

What’s been your favourite thing about your academic journey so far?

I loved representing the university at the Michael Corkery Criminal Law Moot. I was sure I wanted to become a criminal barrister once I took the course, and getting to test my advocacy skills alongside my fantastic mooting partner, Emma, was great fun and a real adrenaline rush. I can’t recommend to other students the value of taking up mooting opportunities – particularly if they are looking to get a pupillage at the bar.

What are your plans for the future?

I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship for my GDL (law conversion course) from Middle Temple and then another scholarship to study the bar course, which I will begin in September this year. I’ve also managed to secure a pupillage at a well-respected criminal chambers, 2 Hare Court, for September 2025 so, if all goes well, I will begin my career at the bar there then.

How do you hope to make a difference in the world?

I hope that becoming a criminal barrister will give me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Whether someone is a complainant, defendant or witness, when someone encounters the criminal justice system it is likely to be a stressful moment, and for some, a very difficult moment of their lives. Being able to guide people through the process and present their position to the court is a valuable and exciting thing to do. Perhaps unlike other areas of law, crime will always have people at the centre no matter how serious the offence. Therefore, even at the earliest stages in my career, every day in court will matter to somebody and make a real difference in their world. 

What does the scholarship mean to you?

The scholarship is invaluable to me, because the journey to the bar can be an expensive one. Securing scholarships for both the GDL and bar course has meant I haven’t taken on any debt and removed that barrier. Scholarships from the inns are also a useful stamp of approval for any aspiring barrister when applying for pupillage. They show that at least one panel of barristers and judges believes that you are capable of a career at the bar. Knowing this has given me some confidence that I’ve chosen the right path, particularly given how competitive it is to get pupillage and tenancy. 

More information: 

 

Share

Celebrating the Lunar New Year and Year of the Dragon with friends and colleagues at Birkbeck  

Zhuoxin Han is a second year LLB Law student. In this blog they share their experience of attending the Lunar New Year event held by the university.  The Lunar New Year is the most important festival celebrated by many countries in Asia. The influence of the Spring Festival has been spreading worldwide; for instance, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the US have begun to join in this celebration. You may have noticed the huge number of red lanterns and decorations in London’s Chinatown if you happened to pass by recently. Or maybe the red celebration signs on the street -screens, as well as dragon illustrations on newspapers or magazines? The Evening Standard, for instance, printed a super cool red dragon as its cover on 10th Feb. 

The Lunar New Year is associated with old myths and traditional customs. Every family undergoes a thorough cleaning while approaching the new year, meaning they are ready to sweep out bad things or moods and be ready to accept the incoming good fortune. In the past, people would practice calligraphy and write their own versions of couplets; today people tend to purchase ready-made couplets. Another custom is using red paper cut outs and couplets to decorate windows and doors respectively. These pretty ornaments make people feel content and joyful. 

This year, the Lunar New Year event was jointly held by Birkbeck Global Recruitment Team and La Yong Jackson, from the International Student Administration team. As student Ambassadors, Ziyao and I were appointed to assist this event.

Before Birkbeck participants arrived, our team members cleaned and decorated the locations where the celebrations were due to take place in the main Malet Street building, the Canteen on the fifth floor, and the George Birkbeck Bar on the fourth floor. We also managed to create a ‘photo corner’ for guests who wish to take pictures, using our phones or Polaroid instant cameras provided by staff for everyone to use. 

The most popular custom during the Spring Festival must be the Red Pocket! The bright red reminds people of the warmth of family, the way everyone once gathered around, talking at the fireplace. I’ve sometimes wondered if that’s why Santa’s hats are red. 😊  

This year, Birkbeck prepared red pockets containing a free lunch voucher, golden chocolate, plus a delicate Birkbeck College badge for everyone who registered for the celebrations. As an international student, I found myself impressed by all these thoughtful details. It was probably a time-consuming task to prepare, and felt special. I was also impressed by the canteen staff, who had a really busy day, preparing food for both the regular daily menus and also the extra Asian cuisines for our celebrations. Sammie, Yunmeng, Ziyao, and I helped with guest check-in; everyone looked surprised and happy when they received the red pocket. It was nice to witness their genuine smiles. After lunch in the canteen, we moved to the George Birkbeck Bar.

Here we enjoyed three main activities: red paper cutting with traditional calligraphy or painting, voting for the best dresser and finally a quiz with prizes to be won! One girl drew a vivid dragon and received compliments with people taking pictures of her painting, and she even won a prize for it. Another lady who dressed in a traditional long dress with a beautiful pearl necklace won the best-dressed prize. She looked surprised when she received the award and gave a big, charming smile.

The quiz session was exciting; questions were related to customs and special products of different countries. It was a well-balanced quiz that included single choice, multiple choice, and matching. Each question had a strict time limitation which added to the excitement; everyone was holding their breath. When the results were released, I was a bit shocked to realise I had won! To be honest, I had guessed some of my answers! My colleague was searching for the mysterious winner: Han, which is my shortened nickname. She moved through the room super-fast, and I was chasing her, trying to explain that I was the one she was looking for. Finally, she turned around and noticed me chasing her, which made everyone laugh. There were two others who had come in with high scores, so as the three winners we gathered and had our picture taken. After this, lots of students stayed longer to socialize with each other, and we took lots of photos to remember the happy memories!

The Lunar New Year marks the end of the cold, dark winter and celebrates the beginning of a hopeful spring; it is a symbol of the final rest after a busy or tiring year; a chance to reunite with family members and recharge energy. People use this opportunity to catch up with those dear to them, preparing and getting ready for the next following year. This event which created a sense of community and togetherness, really helped capture these feelings.

As a final note from me, I wish you all a happy Lunar New Year! May the Year of the Dragon bring you good fortune! 

龙年吉祥!1 龍年吉祥!2 

Below is a list of well wishes for the lunar new year in a variety of languages, so feel free to spread the well wishes in your own language!

Albanian: Le të sjellë Viti i Drakonit fat për ty!

Arabic: “مهما جلب عام التنين لك من الحظ السعيد!” (mahma jalaba ‘aam altinin lak min alhaz alsaeid)

Bengali: “ড্রাগন বছর তোমার ভাগ্য আনুক!” (Ḍrāgana bôshara tōmāra bhāgya ānuka!)

Bosnian: “Neka godina Zmaja donese sreću tebi!” (same as Croatian)

Croatian: “Neka godina Zmaja donese sreću tebi!”

Czech: “Ať ti Rok Draka přinese štěstí!”

Danish: “Må Drageåret bringe dig held og lykke!”

Dutch: “Moge het Jaar van de Draak je geluk brengen!”

Estonian: “Loota, et Draakoni aasta toob sulle õnne!”

Filipino: “Sana’y magdala ng suwerte sa’yo ang Taon ng Dragon!”

Finnish: “Toivotan sinulle onnea Lohikäärmeen vuonna!”

French: “Que l’Année du Dragon vous apporte bonne chance!”

German: “Möge das Jahr des Drachen Ihnen Glück bringen!”

Greek: “Ας φέρει το Έτος του Δράκου καλή τύχη σε εσένα!” (As férei to Étos tou Drákou kalí týchi se eséna!)

Hebrew: “שנת הדרקון תביא לך מזל טוב!” (Shnat hadrakon tavi lecha mazal tov!)

Hindi: “ड्रैगन का वर्ष आपको शुभकामनाएं लेकर आए!” (ḍragan kā varṣ āpako śubhakāmanāeṁ lekar āe!)

Hungarian: “A Sárkány Éve hozzon neked szerencsét!”

Icelandic: “Má Drakársárinn koma þér heppni!”

Indonesian: “Semoga Tahun Naga membawa keberuntungan bagi Anda!”

Italian: “Che l’Anno del Drago ti porti fortuna!”

Japanese: “龍の年があなたに幸運をもたらしますように!” (Ryū no toshi ga anata ni kōun o motarashimasu yō ni!)

Korean: “용년이 당신에게 행운을 가져다 주기를 바랍니다!” (Yongnyeoni dangsinege haeng-un-eul gajyeoda jugireul barabnida!)

Kurdish: “Salê Şahmaran ji we re şans bidin!”

Latvian: “Lai Drakona Gads atnes tev veiksmi!”

Lithuanian: “Tegul Drakono metai tau atneš laimę!”

Malay: “Semoga Tahun Naga membawa keberuntungan kepada anda!”

Nepali: “ड्र्यागनको वर्ष तपाईंलाई भाग्य ल्याउनुहोस्!” (Ḍr’yāganakō varṣa tapā’īnlā’ī bhāgya lyā’unuhōs!)

Polish: “Niech Rok Smoka przyniesie ci szczęście!”

Portuguese: “Que o Ano do Dragão traga boa sorte para você!”

Romanian: “Anul Dragonului să îți aducă noroc!”

Russian: “Пусть год Дракона принесет вам удачу!”

Serbian: “Neka godina Zmaja donese sreću tebi!” (same as Croatian)

Spanish: “¡Que el Año del Dragón te traiga buena suerte!”

Swahili: “Mwaka wa Joka ulete bahati njema kwako!”

Swedish: “Må Drakens år bringa dig lycka!”

Thai: “ขอให้ปีมังกรนำโชคดีมาหาคุณ!” (kh̄ xih̄ pī mạngkrnăm chŏkh dī mā h̄ā khun!)

Turkish: “Ejderha Yılı size şans getirsin!”

Ukrainian: “Нехай Рік Дракона принесе вам щастя!” (Nekhay Rik Drakona prynese vam shchastya!)

Vietnamese: “Chúc năm Rồng mang lại may mắn cho bạn!”

More Information: 

 

Share

Meet the Chevening Scholar: Felix Hollison

Felix is from Soloman Islands, and studying LLM Pathways (Law and New Technology). Find out more about him, his remarkable path to Birkbeck, and his hopes for the future in the below Q&A.

What is your academic and professional background?

I am a lawyer by profession, and I graduated with a Bachelor of Law (LLB) at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in 2014. From 2015 to 2019, I worked as a Senior Crown Counsel in the Attorney-General’s Chambers in Solomon Islands. I was part of the litigation team within the chambers, and represented the Solomon Islands Government mostly in civil cases in the Magistrates Court, High Court and the Court of Appeal.

I joined the Central Magistrates Court of Solomon Islands in June 2019 as a Principal Magistrate and I still work there. Mostly, I deal with criminal cases such as robbery, burglary, assault related cases, sexual offences, human trafficking, theft offences, domestic violence, public disorder offences and other wide range of criminal offences.

Why did you apply for Chevening?

I applied for Chevening because I think this prestigious scholarship will be the vehicle for me to gain a world-class academic learning in the United Kingdom. It will also be a chance to enhance my leadership credentials, and the qualification will no doubt increase my marketability and employability globally.

What are your long-term plans after studying?

One of my goals is to help develop the jurisprudence of my country through my judgments, assist in law reforms where necessary and help Solomon Islands modernise its laws for the betterment of the country. Should I be given the chance to become a judge in the superior courts in the future, it will be a humble opportunity to be more influential in terms of the development of our jurisprudence.

Why did you choose Birkbeck for your studies?

I selected Birkbeck because it is a renowned university located in the heart of London that has transformed many lives for around 200 years already. More importantly, it provides the LLM with Pathways that I wish to study. It has a strong tradition of research across its departments of Law and Criminology with their internationally distinguished staff. The phenomenal changes that have taken place in technology will transform the way society operates in many ways that will have consequential effects on the law around the globe. My country is susceptible to the adverse effects of technological changes such as the erosion of democracy, climate change, cybercrime, biotechnology, political radicalisation and automation to name some.

Birkbeck is the ideal place to gain the necessary academic and professional knowledge to assist my country navigate through these uncertain times. Modernising my country’s laws to keep abreast with the technological and normative changes is a must, and I wish to be an agent of change in my country.

Share

Meet the Chevening Scholar: Ramata N’Diaye

Ramata N’Diaye is a 2023 Chevening scholar from Mali, passionate about Youth and Women empowerment and social entrepreneurship. Here, she shares her experience applying for the UK government’s prestigious scholarship and what made her choose Birkbeck.
A woman smiles and holds up a sign that reads 'I can't keep calm, I've been chosen for Chevening!'A short tour of my career serving youth and empowering women 

‌Entrepreneurship is a field that I’m very passionate about and been in for many years. As the Associate Director of Programs and Partnerships at Impact Hub, Bamako, I help young people realise their entrepreneurial dreams. I’m able to share my skills through training and coaching sessions held within the framework of various programmes. The programmes include, The Next Economy, which is made possible by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership programme which is supported by the US Embassy; and Road2COP, a project financed by the UK Embassy in Mali that aims to provide an innovative and interactive platform for Young Malians in order to better understand the climate crisis. 

Through my work I have planned, designed and implemented more than 10 impactful programs for over 2000 young people and have helped raise more than 100 million FCFA in financing for local entrepreneurs. I think my experience in management within the the start-up and innovation sector helped with this a lot. Furthermore, in my role of communication Coordinator of the National Council of Business Incubators and Innovation Centres of Mali, I built valuable partnerships with various stakeholders and played a pivotal role in fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, leading me to be a key speaker at the World Bank Group Regional Youth Summit in May 2023. Finally, as women entrepreneurship advocate, I have published several articles on female entrepreneurship in Mali and participated in various forum on the topic as a panelist. 

Education and experience go hand in hand 

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Organisation Communication from Universiapolis, the international University of Agadir, Morocco, and I graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a Master’s Degree in Media and Globalization in 2017. I hold an Expert Certification in Business Support for Innovative Entrepreneurship from the Afric’Innov community, an investment readiness expertise certification from Investisseurs & Partners and finally a verified certification in Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies from Harvard University online courses. 

Chevening, entrepreneurship and economic development 

In a country threatened by political, economic and security instabilities like Mali, the private sector and entrepreneurship is the source of about 90% of the job creation and a major share of sources economic growth. It is therefore the locomotive that will help the country emerge and develop. I think it is crucial to support the development of the local private sector and to invest in digital transformation, to create enough attractive and secure income opportunities for young people – especially women. Stable sources of income will mean fewer young people considering the path of Islamic extremism or immigration. For women it opens the door to financial independence, thus reducing gender-based violence. The importance of this matter in a Malian context, stimulated my interest to apply for Chevening. 

I realized that a comprehensive education related to my expertise in entrepreneurship is essential in order to achieve my goals. I believe that gaining education in business development and innovation strategy combined with my experience, will help me acquire the capability to work in an extensive range of senior functional and general management positions across a wide spectrum of business sectors in Mali and the whole region. 

I hope to have a key role in preparing young entrepreneurs through my international Chevening network, education, and career experience. In time, I want this to open up more opportunities for entrepreneurship advancement in Mali.  

Mixing academic pursuits and active entrepreneurship at Birkbeck 

I chose Birkbeck for my studies for several compelling reasons. Firstly, Birkbeck is renowned for its commitment to providing evening classes, allowing working professionals like myself to pursue advanced education without compromising their professional commitments.  

Secondly, Birkbeck has a distinguished reputation for its emphasis on practical and applicable knowledge. The faculty at Birkbeck consists of accomplished professionals and scholars in the field, providing a valuable opportunity for me to learn from experts and gain insights from their practical experiences. 

‌Lastly, I was fortunate to receive valuable insights from my fellow Malian and Chevening scholar, Awa Touré, who studied her master’s degree at Birkbeck. Her firsthand experience and positive recommendations about the academic environment, faculty expertise, and overall atmosphere at Birkbeck played a pivotal role in influencing my decision to choose the university for my own master’s studies.  

 

Share

Meet Birkbeck’s 2023/24 Chevening scholars 

Each year the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers the prestigious Chevening Scholarship to promising students chosen for their leadership potential and academic promise. For academic year 2023/24 Birkbeck welcomes 21 Chevening scholars hailing from all corners of the world. Here, we get to know some of them a little better.  

Ahmed Maki from Iraq, studying MSC Entrepreneurship 

Ahmed has dedicated himself to the fields of business development and entrepreneurship. His professional journey has been impactful, involving collaborations with international NGOs and private sector companies to nurture the growth of SMEs and start-ups in Iraq. His dedication to advancing the private sector in his home country reflects a profound commitment to economic development and entrepreneurship. 

“I applied for a Chevening scholarship for the 2023-2024 cohort with a dual purpose. Firstly, I aspire to join the ranks of international leaders who serve as ambassadors for their respective countries. Being a Chevening scholar would enable me to represent Iraq globally, contributing to the international assembly of leaders. Secondly, Chevening is not merely an academic scholarship but a transformative, lifelong experience. I anticipate gaining valuable lessons throughout my Chevening journey, building a global network, and utilizing global expertise and progress in entrepreneurship to bolster the entrepreneurial sector in my home country, Iraq, and elevate it to the status of a developed nation in this domain.” 

Leena Shibeika Izzledin Mekki from Sudan, studying MSc Geography  

An architecture graduate from the University of Khartoum Leena turned into an urbanist and is currently pursuing MSc Geography at Birkbeck. 

“I consider myself a social activist and leader who’s driven by an endeavour to challenge the status quo, and I’m passionate about advocating for Urban-Social Justice in cities. 

I applied to Chevening because my aim is to facilitate my role as an urban researcher and geographer to reach out to and work for and with vulnerable communities, specifically women; internally-displaced-persons; and citizens who exist within informal habitats and work settings in Khartoum. I acknowledge their struggle as a compass for my work. I aspire to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 11; Sustainable Cities and Communities and work specifically in ensuring access for all to housing and basic services and enhancing sustainable urbanisation and participatory planning in Sudan.” 

Sidhant Bali Maharaj from Fiji, studying MA Gender and Sexuality Studies 

Selected as a UN Women 30 for 2030 youth leader in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Sidhant is an Intersectional Queer Feminist Activist from Fiji with over 8 years’ experience working in the areas of Women, Girls, LGBTQI+ rights, and Youth Empowerment. 

“After the completion of my MA in Gender and Sexuality Studies, I plan to further my research in Fiji and the Pacific and work more closely with the public and private sector in developing/updating more inclusive and diverse policies that has women and LGBTIQ+ community as safe guarded categories shifting from the gender as binary narrative.”

Elena Nechaeva from Kyrgyzstan, studying MA Digital Media Management

A journalist, producer, documentalist, presenter, video blogger, co-founder of the public fund Media Space, and media trainer from Kyrgyzstan, Elena started her career on television in 2011 covering breaking news and making feature stories.

“My long-term goal is to launch a large-scale project in the media sector of Kyrgyzstan and make it sustainable. It will embrace the creation, development, and promotion of new media on different platforms and support and training for beginner bloggers who create helpful and socially significant content.”

Iddi Yassin from Tanzania, studying MSc Sport Management

Admitted to the Tanzania Mainland Bar Association in 2016, Iddi practiced law as an Advocate of the High Court of Tanzania.

“I applied for Chevening in 2023 because it is arguably the most prestigious scholarship programme with remarkable scholars and alumni networks from different social, economic, and political backgrounds. My long-term plan is to become a football agent and managing young athletes in Tanzania to fulfil their career ambitions in global stages, hence with the extensive skills acquired from my postgraduate studies this will be achieved through a rich network to support my vision and career plan.”

Aslan Saputra from Indonesia, studying MSc Business Innovation

CEO and Founder of Gumugu, an IT company that provides paperless services and digital education systems that have been used in several cities throughout Indonesia and Malaysia, Aslan also founded a coworking space in his hometown of Aceh in Indonesia.

“My long-term plan for the future is that I want to expand my business outside of Indonesia, especially in Southeast Asia and several European countries, and with the Birkbeck and Chevening alumni network, I hope that my plan will come true.”

Iván Luzardo Ruiz from Uruguay, studying LLM Law General

A Human Rights lawyer, Iván has worked for the Human Rights Unit of the Presidency of the Republic of Uruguay, responsible for investigating Crimes Against Humanity during the last dictatorship in Uruguay. He has also been involved with the nationwide volunteering programme called Free Legal Clinics which provides free legal advice and representation in court to more than12,000 people per year. 

I was highly honoured by being awarded the Chevening Scholarship 2023-2024, as this is one of the most prestigious and high-level networks around the globe. Being a Chevening Scholar means taking part in a broad group of like-minded future leaders who aim to develop and build impactful and meaningful changes while studying in a spectacular and inspiring academic environment. This allows us to strengthen our relations with others, improve the projects we want to develop, and expand its beneficial impacts.” 

Rama N’Diaye from Mali, studying MSc Entrepreneurship

Passionate about entrepreneurship, Rama is the Associate Director of Programmes and Partnerships at Impact Hub Bamako in Mali, where she supports young people with their entrepreneurial dreams. In her role as Communication Coordinator of the National Council of Business Incubators and Innovation Centres of Mali, she played a pivotal role in fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, leading her to be a key speaker at the World Bank Group Regional Youth Summit in May 2023.

“Gaining education in Business development and Innovation strategy combined with my experience, will help me acquire the capability to work in an extensive range of senior functional and general management positions across a wide spectrum of business sectors in Mali and the whole region. 

By sharing knowledge through education and networks with Malian entrepreneurs, I can play a key role in helping young entrepreneurs. With my international Chevening network and knowledge I want to create more opportunities for entrepreneurship advancement in Mali. Overall, I intend to put the new skills and knowledge I will have acquired from my education in the UK into good use in Mali like I have done so in the past.”

Nodar Rukhadze from Georgia, studying MSc Government, Policy and Politics

A journalist with a background in human rights activism, Nodar graduated from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) with a Social Science degree. In 2019, he co-founded the Shame Movement, which rapidly evolved into Georgia’s leading civil platform. Nodar has orchestrated over a hundred demonstrations and ten informative campaigns, significantly influencing government policies. A highlight of his activism was the historic demonstration on June 20, 2022, advocating for Georgia’s European integration. 

Understanding the crucial role of young, educated leaders in mitigating Georgia’s political challenges, Nodar is currently focused on activism and campaigning, with ambitions to enter politics. Nodar’s vision encompasses expanding civil organizations’ influence and building consensus among diverse policy stakeholders. He aspires to see Georgia join the European Union and NATO, believing in the power of young Georgian leaders to realize this goal.

Ian Tarimo from Tanzania, studying MSc Business Innovation

A dynamic social entrepreneur from Tanzania, Ian is the recipient of the prestigious Leadership Impact Award from the US State Department’s Young African Leadership Initiative. He has also been recipient of the Builders Africa Future Award by the African Diaspora Network.

He is also the Founding Executive Director of Tai, a social enterprise utilizing data, storytelling, and technology to create educational and entertaining content, including 3D animations, radio drama, music, and comics.

Felix Hollison from the Solomon Islands studying LLM Law with Pathways – Law and New Technologies

A Lawyer by profession Felix has worked as a Senior Crown Counsel in the Attorney-General’s Chambers in Solomon Islands from 2015 to June 2019 before joining the Central Magistrates Court of Solomon Islands in June 2019 as a Principal Magistrate.

“The phenomenal changes in technology transform the way society operates in ways that have consequential effects on the law around the globe. My country is susceptible to the adverse effects of technological changes such as the erosion of democracy, climate change, cybercrime, biotechnology, political radicalisation and automation to name some. 

I wish to gain the necessary academic and professional knowledge to assist my country navigate through these uncertain times. Modernising my country’s laws to keep abreast with the technological and normative changes is a must and I wish to be an agent of change in my country.”

Find out more about:

Share

200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Siobhan Baker, STEM Learning UK and ‘Coding Black Females’

A full-stack software developer, Siobhan Baker first entered the tech industry in 2017 as Community Manager for a social enterprise aiming to get more women into tech. She continued to work while studying a part-time Master’s in Philosophy at Birkbeck.  

8th Light, a network of software, design and technology professionals, offered her a job as a software intern and she has since risen through the ranks to become a senior software developer. She also now works as a strategy consultant for non-profit Coding Black Females, which aims to provide development opportunities and a safe space in which black women can thrive in the tech industry. This is especially important as, according to national statistics, only 1% of people in the IT industry are black women. 

Siobhan acts as a role model for other black women, giving talks to inspire those in the early stages of their career to reach their potential in this traditionally male-dominated industry. 

Share

200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Simon Fourmy, director of Julia and Rans Rausing Foundation

Grants manager for a series of philanthropic initiatives, Simon Fourmy is now Head of Grants for the Julia and Hand Rausing Trust, responsible for gifting millions in funding to charities in the United Kingdom working in the space of health, welfare, education, arts and culture. The Trust aims to provide opportunities for all in these areas, as well as benefiting society by supporting initiatives that foster care for those in need.  

Simon studied Management at Birkbeck in 2012 while he was director of grants for the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity offering grants in the education, science, culture and health industries. While at the Wolfson Foundation, he developed a flagship postgraduate scholarship programme. 

Share

200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Shola Mos-Shobabimu, political and women’s rights activist

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu is a high profile political & women’s rights activist, a New York Attorney and Solicitor of England & Wales, writer. She is also a public speaker and political commentator featuring regularly in mainstream and online media. 

Dr Mos-Shogbamimu established She@LawTalks to promote women and also black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) leadership in the legal profession through universities and secondary schools. 

She received her PhD from Birkbeck and is the founder of the Women in Leadership publication as a platform to drive positive change on topical issues that impact women globally through inspiring personal leadership journeys.   

Share

200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Sarah Weir, Fellow of Birkbeck

She began her working life as a gofer for Aldgate Group Brokers, making her way up over 15 years to become its Managing Director and the first female MD in a Lloyd’s broking firm. However, having got to the top she felt a sense of anti-climax and lack of complete fulfilment. She then started a part-time degree at Birkbeck, aged 31, left her City insurance career a year into this and changed direction completely into the arts world. 

While studying for her History of Art BA she took a job at the Purdy Hicks Gallery, moving to Arts and Business as Deputy Chief Executive, before joining the Royal Academy of Arts as its fundraising director. She then became Executive Director of the Almeida Theatre and by 2003 was running Arts Council England, London. Between 2008 and 2011 she was Head of Arts and Cultural Strategy for the Olympic Delivery Authority, developing over 40 permanent artistic commissions integrated into the Olympic Park. 

From there, Sarah went on to found The Legacy List, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park charity. This was set up in 2011 to encourage creative connections between people and the park, with a focus on arts and culture, education and skills.   

Sarah was awarded an OBE for services to the arts in the January 2012 New Year Honours. 

Share