Winning the British Muslim Award for Education and what it means for me

At the start of January, I had some general goals I wanted to achieve this year. I’d always been one of those people to try and create a sophisticated plan, only to then hit a brick wall in keeping the momentum going. But a theme that I kept in my mind was this idea of the ‘control for new.’ It’s something that really resonated with me after reading ‘The Charge’, a book by the world famous high performance coach and trainer, Brendon Burchard. In a nutshell, ‘The Charge’ talks about 10 human drives we need to activate in order to live a more fulfilled, productive and meaningful life. One area he talks about is the ‘drive for control.’ This is about taking control of our outlook and character, looking at ways we can introduce new experiences and opportunities, and controlling your workflow, including creating new projects. All of these definitely struck a chord with me.

In terms of new experiences and opportunities, I achieved this through a rather unexpected honour. Last Wednesday night, I attended the 5th British Muslim Awards held in Leicester’s Athena, having been shortlisted as a finalist for Services to Education. This glittering ceremony, organised by Oceanic Consulting, and presented by key sponsor Al Rayan Bank, celebrates the talents and successes of British Muslims from a diverse range of sectors and professions such as arts & culture, law, medicine, science & engineering, community work, sport and much more.

I was familiar with the initiative, as I had friends who had won before, but never imagined I would be there myself. So needless to say I was extremely nervous and excited! The calibre of finalists in my category was extremely high, and it was an honour to be included with such a group of esteemed academics, researchers and educators.

So when it came to announcing the winner of the Services to Education, and the presenter started to describe me, it was a total shock that I had won! With my mind all over the place, I made it onto the stage without any major disasters, and very humbly received the beautiful glass trophy. My dad was with me on the night, and it goes without saying he was beaming with pride. Lovely messages came flooding through from family, friends and colleagues. My Twitter feed was on fire – I felt like a celebrity!

Photo Credit: British Muslim Awards
Pictured with Fadi Itani of Qatar Charity UK, sponsors of Services to Education Award (Photo Credit: Qatar Charity UK)

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 on the challenges facing Muslims and BME groups in education and employment, that inspired me to serve disadvantaged groups and make a difference to their lives. So the fact that I was recognised as an example of a British Muslim Asian female dedicated to helping others, really meant a lot for me. I did feel very emotional at that point.

I am delighted on so many levels, but I am also pleased that this has highlighted the valuable role careers professionals play across the education sector. Hearing that I work in a university, people have asked me on numerous occasions, “So, you’re a lecturer, what do you teach?” I’ve tactfully had to say that it’s not just lecturers who work in a university! 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.

I’ve been asked where do I go from here, how do I intend to use this award? I guess the simple answer is to continue to empower, inspire and support students and graduates but to also continue to be a role model for people in my own community.

But going back to what I said earlier on about ‘new’ experiences, opportunities and people, I think the evening was certainly the start of that. It was a pleasure to meet the sponsors of my award, Qatar Charity UK, represented by Fadi Itani (Deputy Director General) and Chris Goward (Communications Manager). Qatar Charity UK are a development and humanitarian charity committed to empowering disadvantaged people in the UK and abroad, and I am looking forward to being the first guest blogger on their new website. It was also great to meet so many inspiring and talented British Muslims, including fellow bloggers and some well known public figures. I will certainly be showcasing some of these successes in upcoming blog posts and future projects.

I want to congratulate everyone who was shortlisted and all the winners – it is fantastic to see people from the Muslim community challenging stereotypes and succeeding in such a diverse range of professions and roles. I hope their work continues to inspire many others.

You can see a full list of winners and further coverage of the event here.

Published by Monira Ahmed

Careers Professional & Blogger; passionate about International Careers, Diversity Matters and Mentoring.

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