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The Study UK Alumni Awards 2024, Shining Faces from Pakistan acknowledged for their development impact

By: Wajiha Imtiaz

ISLAMABAD: The Study UK Alumni Awards is a prestigious global awards scheme that finds and celebrates the outstanding alumni of UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), and the impact that they are having around the world. Award finalists are business professionals, entrepreneurs, and community leaders, who can articulate how they have used their UK education to make a difference in their professions, societies, and countries. This year the award categories included: 1. Science and Innovation; 2. Social Action; 3. Culture and Creativity; 4. Business and Innovation.  The event started with Sneha Lala’s energetic hosting presence supported by the impeccable management of Mr. Usman Khalid, Ms. Maryam Qadir, and Mr. Haroon Rashid, representing the British Council Pakistan. The Opening Note by Kate Ewart-Biggs OBE, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, British Council highlighted the role of UK-Pak collaboration in promoting world-class education among Pakistani youth. Address by Andrew Dalgleish, British Deputy High Commissioner, Pakistan was inspiring for the alumni in terms of growth commitment, the fast-evolving UK institutes hold with their graduates. There was a Chief-guest address by Dr. Umar Saif, Founder, aiSight.ai, and Advisor, Khudi Ventures, where he shared a heartfelt journey of his own, as an alumnus of Trinity College at Cambridge University and how he was the first Commonwealth scholar to be awarded the prestigious
Study UK Alumni Award himself.

Within the Science and Sustainability Award category, the finalists were: Dr. Abid Ali Malik (University of Sheffield), Dr. Khuram Pervez Amber (London South Bank University), and Prof. Dr. Saima Yasin (Imperial College London). The award was won by Dr. Abid Ali Malik, a renowned psychiatrist, with contributions to mental health leadership in 22 EMRO countries. As a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatry, he paved the way for impactful global interventions and advocacy for mental health policies, like WHO’s Thinking Healthy Program for perinatal depression. His journey showcases dedication to addressing global mental health challenges through clinical practice, research, and leadership. The finalists in the Culture and Creativity Award were Mr. Saad Masood Zuberi (University of London), Mr. Ghulam Hyder Daudpota (University of Wales), and Dr Rizwana Abbasi (University of Leicester).  The winner of the Culture and Creativity award was Mr. Saad Masood Zuberi whose work has been featured on global platforms like BBC and Al Jazeera, creating a significant influence on social awareness and policy reforms about human rights and social issues. Nominated for esteemed awards such as the Emmy and International Documentary Association Award, his documentaries showcase a commitment to public interest journalism. The Social Action Award was won by Dr. Tanvir Ahmad (Durham University), the two final contenders in the social action category award along with Dr. Tanvir Ahmad were Haya Emaan Zahid (University of London) with work in legal aid, and Zile Huma (Univeristy of Oxford) focused on the climate change initiatives. Dr. Tanvir is currently leading UNHCR Pakistan in energy-environment initiatives to provide sustainable energy access to marginalized communities in South Asia. This includes Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities for Afghan refugees and local Pakistani communities. The Winner in the Business and Innovation Award category was Dr. Iffat Zafar Aga (University of Edinburgh),  She is the Co-founder and COO of Sehat Kahani, a Pakistani telemedicine startup, Dr. Iffat is revolutionizing healthcare accessibility, earning accolades like the USAID SHIFT Prize, Heroines of Healthcare Award from the World Health Summit, and Forbes recognition. Under her leadership, her organization established a network of 63 E-Health centers, conducted over 2.6 million online consultations, and secured a groundbreaking Series A investment. The other two finalists in this category were Asad Aslam (Queen Mary University of London) and Nabeel Akmal Qadeer (University of Strathclyde).

The awards were presented by the worthy guests’ Kate Ewart-Biggs OBE, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, British Council, Andrew Dalgleish, British Deputy High Commissioner, Pakistan, Dr. Umar Saif, Founder, aiSight.ai, and Advisor, Khudi Ventures, Dr. Paul Thompson (Chair, British Council) and James Hampson (Country Director, British Council Pakistan).  

The most interesting and captivating notes were delivered by the award winners where they shared their success stories starting from very humble beginnings, including the hardships they overcame with faith and perseverance and of course the congratulatory messages from their host universities on their accomplishments. 

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