Queen Mary’s Leila Pooriakia and Monzur Chowdhury pipped out thousands of students to be named as undergraduates of the year in the nation-wide TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards.
Leila is a second year Chemistry student, winning the Excellence Through Adversity Award. Monzur, a second year Economics and Finance student, won the First Generation Award.
The Excellence Through Adversity Award recognises somebody who demonstrates resilience, faces challenges head on and isn't afraid to think differently. As the winner, Leila received a host of prizes including a ten-week paid summer internship at Rolls Royce as well as a ‘day in the life of a senior manager’, a valuable opportunity to shadow a leader for the day.
Commenting, Leila Pooriakia said: “I was completely shocked when they read my name out and it took a while to really sink in.
“I’m over the moon to have won and I’d like to say a massive thanks to the Queen Mary Careers and Enterprise Team whose guidance was invaluable.
“I’m looking forward to working hard and building my skillset through the fantastic business opportunities I was given as part of my prizes before returning to my final year at Queen Mary.
“I’d also like to give a huge thank you to Dr Giorgio Chianello, my academic advisor, who gave me a lot of support. While the process was extremely challenging and I almost gave up, he encouraged me throughout.”
The First Generation Award is given to a student of that background who is also an agile thinker, as well as a natural people person and someone who embraces diversity. Like Leila, Monzur was awarded a summer internship, with leading telecommunications firm BT. He will also be the recipient of one-to-one mentoring sessions and a breakfast meeting with a senior manager.
Commenting on his win, Monzur Chowdhury said: “This award is a significant milestone for me, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Queen Mary Careers and Enterprise Team for their unwavering support and guidance throughout the competition.
“I am honoured to have been selected as the winner of this award, and I hope it inspires other first-generation students to pursue their goals and overcome any challenges they may face. I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and look forward to making a positive impact in the finance industry.”
In additional to the two winners, there were 7 other Queen Mary students who made it to the finals of the national competition, which received 4,700 entries from across the UK. Reaching the final is a huge achievement for the student finalists, and a mark of their outstanding skills and achievements having progressed through numerous highly competitive stages. These students were Luce Biscardi, Zoe Thomas, Harriet Spoor, Raminta Kacinskaite, Hazal Turunc, Pontus Söderhäll and Jack Gallimore.
Queen Mary’s strong performance in the awards was demonstrated though it winning the joint most awards alongside the University of Cambridge, and being in the top 3 universities for applications. And the Excellence Through Adversity and First Generation wins are a testament to Queen Mary’s commitment to and excellence in aiding social mobility. The University has previously been named the top university in the country for social mobility and University of the Year at the UK Social Mobility Awards.
For more information, please see the TargetJobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards website
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