On Monday, 26 March 2018, the British Council announced the recipients of the Study UK Alumni Awards 2018 at an award ceremony hosted at the British Embassy Ambassador’s Residence in Washington D.C. In total, three UK alumni were recognized for their outstanding achievements as business professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders, and for their important contribution to strengthening collaborative ties between the UK and US.
The prestigious international award celebrates UK higher education and the achievements of UK alumni all over the world. Now in its fourth year, the award received thousands of applications from international UK alumni in a record 123 countries, representing more than 140 UK higher education institutions across the UK. Following in-depth interviews with a judging panel, recipients were selected for the three award categories: Professional Achievement, Entrepreneurial, and Social Impact.
The Professional Achievement Award, which recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through exemplary leadership in their professional field, was presented to Srilakshmi Raj, a graduate of the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. Srilakshmi is a human geneticist at Cornell University, where she is currently researching how genetic variation acts in different environmental contexts to predispose to complex disease, particularly heart disease and diabetes. She said, “Going to school in the UK was the best decision I made in my life. Attending both Oxford and Cambridge transformed the vision I had for my career, ignited the passion I have for public health and introduced me to lifelong friends and mentors. The experience is one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
The Social Impact Award, which acknowledges alumni who have made an exceptional contribution to creating positive social change, was presented to Dr. Jonas Nguh, a graduate of the University of Dundee. Jonas is Professor of the Graduate Nursing Program at Walden University and a global health practitioner specializing in maternal, newborn and child health. Upon accepting his award, Jonas shared "I would like to thank the British Council USA for this honor, and special thanks to the University of Dundee for shaping me to become an agent of positive social change. I remain grateful for the experience and education I received from the University of Dundee and my time in the UK will remain one of the highlights of my educational career. It broadened my worldview and made me realize that no matter where we are from, we are more alike than we are different. I am grateful to be a little beacon of light to someone else in this world.”
The Entrepreneurial Award, which highlights alumni who have played a leading role in business innovation, was presented to Alireza Tahmasebzadeh, a graduate of Imperial College London. Alireza is the co-founder of BLOCKS Wearables Inc., a technology start-up developing wearable technology solutions. Upon winning, Alireza shared "The prestigious award ceremony organized by British Council USA was yet another great reminder of the world-class UK higher education. I would like to thank President Alice Gast, Imperial Entrepreneurs, Imperial Startup Incubator, and Imperial Innovations for making Imperial College London the startup hub that it is today."
Michael Tatham, Deputy Head of Mission to the USA, said: “The UK has a world-class Higher Education sector and is the top destination for US students to study abroad. These awards highlight the achievements of those who have studied in the UK and demonstrate how their studies have had a positive impact in the UK, US and internationally. My warmest congratulations to the finalists.”
Leigh Gibson, Director USA at the British Council, said: “The special relationship between the US and the UK is built on trust, a shared history, and mutual understanding, nurtured by the hundreds of thousands of people who have chosen to broaden their horizons by traveling abroad to study and gain a rich understanding of another culture, a thought-provoking academic experience and warm lifelong relationships. We are thrilled to celebrate this great programme of transatlantic exchange and send the 2017 - 2018 winners and finalists our congratulations.”