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A catalyst for growth by Monira Ahmed

Last week, I was honoured to receive the British Muslim Award for Services to Education, kindly sponsored by Qatar Charity UK.

Winning this award is of huge personal and professional significance for me. In my acceptance speech, I spoke about the catalyst for my career in higher education – that nearly 20 years ago it was a university lecture by a journalist on the challenges facing Muslims and BME groups in education and employment, that inspired me to help disadvantaged groups and enable others to realise their potential. The fact that I received this award as an example of a British Muslim Asian female dedicated to helping others and, given the mission and work of Qatar Charity UK, was a very special moment.

For 15 years I’ve successfully managed and delivered innovative and award – winning employability projects, provided careers advice, support and training, and established effective partnerships with hundreds of employers, including some of the UK’s most high profile firms and global businesses, to further the diversity and equality agenda.

Currently, I work as a Careers & Graduate Employability Adviser at the University of Central Lancashire, where amongst other things, I am working on a project to support BME students through networking and mentoring support from BME role models and professionals.

Outside of my work in HE, I am a blogger and writer; in addition to my own careers blog https://everythingcareers.wordpress.com I have also written for national graduate careers websites, Muslim community magazines and an Islamic finance consultancy. And I have been involved in an educational charity to empower young Muslim girls from the Lancashire area.

When we talk about education, naturally much emphasis is given on academia and teaching. But I am delighted that this award has highlighted the valuable role careers professionals play across the education sector. Whether it’s academic or support staff, we all have a responsibility and role to play in the education and development of our young people, students and graduates. Careers information, advice and guidance is critical in helping people achieve their goals and ambitions, and I am very proud that once again, I’ve played a part in showcasing the work that we do.

So how do I intend to build on this success? I guess the simple answer is to continue to empower, inspire and support students and graduates but in these challenging times, I hope to also continue to be a role model and inspiration for my own community, and especially young Muslim girls.