Student 100 stories 2013-2014

Sulman Khan, BSc Mathematics with Computing student, has always strived to achieve his best. An individual who makes the most of opportunities, he is 100% committed to completing whatever task is in hand. Sulman believes that, in a job market where even First Class graduates are struggling for work, it is essential to gain experience from an early age.

With a consistent history of volunteering and hard work, Sulman experienced responsibility at a young age, becoming a Form Captain in Year 7 of secondary school, a Prefect in Sixth Form and the Head of Student Council for his year group also. Sulman carried out similar responsibilities during university by chosing to become a student representative. 

In 2008, Sulman started working in a family run rentals company, managing the operations and finance of the business. In 2011, he took on the position of Team Leader for Blackburn Rovers FC and, due to his commitment to the club, was promoted to Supervisor in October 2013. Currently in his Industrial Placement year, Sulman recently joined UTC Aerospace Systems where he works in Test Development, developing equipment for testing aircraft engine components for clients such as Emirates.

In September 2013, Sulman became a Coordinator for the pilot of Aston University’s Mathematics Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Scheme. The scheme has been a success, celebrating a PAL Poster Competition in November 2013.

Sulman Khan

Ashton Jenion

Ashton Jenion

After succeeding through a series of rigorous trials, physical tests and mental examinations, Ashton Jenion, BSc Construction Project Management student, was selected to compete in The FISU World Winter University Games, a prestigious international student-athlete winter sports tournament. 

Playing as a Defenceman for the Coventry NIHL Blaze in the NIHL Laidler Conference, Ashton has extensive experience of high intensity hockey. Nonetheless, he was surprised by the difficulty of the trials, which involved five intensive sessions in Nottingham. This was on top of training twice a week for Coventry Blaze in Coventry and studying for his Construction Project Management degree at Aston. When Ashton found out that he had been selected to be a part of Team Great Britain's Ice Hockey team, he was extremely happy, proud and excited.

At Aston University, Ashton is involved in various sporting societies and is a University Sports Scholar, receiving a grant from Sports Aston to support him in snowboarding and ice hockey events. On behalf of the University, Ashton has competed at numerous sporting events across Europe, including the finals of a snowboarding tournament in the French Alps. He is also captain of the Aston’s Snowsport Squad, which currently teaches around 45 people to ski and snowboard each week at the indoor Snowdown complex in Tamworth. 

Miriam Hussain

Miriam Hussain’s Teach First journey began in her first year of university when she applied to be a Teach First Brand Manager. Unfortunately, Miriam was unsuccessful in obtaining this role, but she described not getting the Brand Manager position as the best thing that could have happened. 

This experience made Miriam resilient and increased her belief in the Teach First vision, which is essentially centred on addressing educational disadvantage. It is a simple idea which has a huge impact, and it’s why she applied for the graduate scheme at 19. 

“My father has always taught me that if you work hard enough you can achieve and that was my motivation for successfully obtaining an offer on one the most competitive graduate schemes in the country”.  

Teach First is all about becoming a leader and achieving success – both for yourself and for others. The Leadership Development Programme is an intensive two years and combines working and training as a teacher with leadership development training, coaching, mentoring and a range of networking and internship opportunities. 

Miriam describes being accepted onto the Teach First Leadership Development Programme as a huge honour. Teach First is the only company that Miriam wanted to work for and she cannot wait to start making a difference.

Miriam Hussain

Noreen Dera

Noreen Dera

Noreen Dera is a final year Psychology student. During the academic year of 2011-12, she participated in the Aimhigher Mentoring Scheme, where she was allocated five Year 12 students from Park Hall Academy in Castle Bromwich. Noreen worked in the school as a Student Mentor for 15 weeks and the students that she mentored came from very different backgrounds.

Noreen successfully developed varied mentoring sessions according to the needs of the students, providing a good balance between academic and personal development. These sessions covered everything from essay writing to presentation skills and overtime helped the students to realise their achievements and potential. As the sessions progressed, the students started to adopt a more proactive approach by asking plenty of questions and by thoroughly preparing for the sessions.

Noreen was nominated for Mentor of the year by the Head of Sixth form at Park Hall, with the nominator highlighting how Noreen’s mentoring sessions were having a positive effect on the student’s performance and levels of confidence during lesson time. Noreen was proudly awarded 'Aston University Mentor of the Year' and 'Runner Up Mentor of the Year' for the West Midlands region. One of her learners was also nominated for 'Learner of the Year'.

Kate Goodfellow

As a part of her Industrial placement year, chemistry student Kate Goodfellow worked as a scientific analyst within the Pharmaceutical Department of Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL), a subsidiary of Mondelez International. During this time, Kate was trained to ‘Good Manufacturing Practice’ standard in all areas of wet chemistry, routine analytical techniques and in the use of High Performance Liquid Chromatography. Kate also spent time working with both ‘Functional Ingredients’ and ‘Product Innovation’ departments.

Kate held the role of ‘Education Representative’ on the community team for RSSL, taking part in many events such as fundraisers throughout the year and encouraging science in schools through Young Enterprise and being a science judge at a local primary school. She also ran the Reading and Birmingham Half Marathon, which raised over £900 for charity.

Kate says that her industrial placement has proven to have many benefits, including increasing her employability status and laboratory experience, as well as her interpersonal skills through the variety of both routine analysis and involvement in other community based activities. The experience also allowed her to put the theory acquired from her degree into practice while working in a very deadline orientated environment. 

Kate was awarded ‘RSSL 2013 Industrial Placement student of the year’ and has been offered a permanent position with Mondelez International upon the completion of her degree.

Kate Goodfellow

Margarita Nyfoudi

Margarita Nyfoudi

Doctoral Researcher Margarita Nyfoudi was selected a full-time doctoral representative on the British Academy of Management (BAM) Council. Margarita’s main responsibility is to represent a pool of 800 doctoral students from all over the world who are either members of BAM or have registered their interest for doctoral-related activities.

During her service as a BAM Council member, Margarita has been involved with many initiatives that contribute to the advancement of academia in the area of business and management. Margarita describes her biggest contribution as the development, organisation and fundraising for the workshop “Developing your paper for submission to the 2014 BAM Conference”. 

Margarita was awarded £5000 by the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS) for the development of this hands-on workshop for business and management doctoral students, which took place at Aston University on the 27th November 2013.  

While a small percentage of the funding was used for refreshments on the day, the remaining money was used to reimburse the travel and expenses of the speakers and the PhD students. This gave to every PhD student the opportunity to participate. 

Fahad Al-Thani

Fahad Al-Thani

Fahad Al-Thani is a BSc International Business & Economics student in his second year at Aston University. 

Fahad is an international student and was awarded the prestigious title of ‘Ideal Student of the Year 2009’ by Qatar’s Minister of Education during his secondary education.  He was also a volunteer ambassador of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha in 2010, which involved promoting the museum to the public. 

Having completed his first year at Aston in 2013, he applied for a summer internship at Qatar Airways in Doha, being one of the very few candidates accepted. During his internship, he was assigned tasks related to strategic planning of the company’s department of Aeropolitical Affairs. 

Fahad completed his internship successfully and was praised by the company’s officials for his talent and positive contributions. His contributions were particularly extolled as he created new ways that can effectively facilitate the department’s functioning on the daily basis. 

As a result of his success, Qatar Airways decided to offer Fahad a full scholarship for his studies at Aston University and a permanent graduate job. 

Sunjay Kohli

Sunjay Kohli is a first year student working towards a degree in International Business and Management.

After graduating from The Challenge Network Summer Programme, a programme that offers 15 to 17 year olds the opportunity to try new things, Sunjay became involved in various voluntary and work experience projects. These projects include being a youth board member for The Challenge Network, working with online and print publications, the founding of Birmingham Youth Empowerment Forum and the development of his own business ideas. 

Sunjay was recognised for his hard work when he received a ‘Good Samaritan Award’ by Celebrating Youth Excellence, an organisation for which he later became a board member. 

With music and poetry being among Sunjay’s passions, he recently developed his own online platform for up and coming Hip Hop Artists (www.hiphopdrome.com). Sunjay also has several hobbies including rowing, a sport that allowed him to travel to South Africa, where he competed in the first annual Bishop Bavin Rowing Festival. He also enjoys creative writing and video production. 

“Through my experiences I have learnt an unbelievable amount about operating effectively in a business environment. I’m sure these skills will serve me well in the future."

Sunjay Kohli

Lira De Veyra

Lira De Veyra

Lira de Veyra, MSc Social Responsibility and Sustainability student in Aston Business School, is from Leyte, the centre of the typhoon Haiyan, which devastated Central Philippines.

Although her family survived, the news about the massive destruction and hunger put her in a terrible ordeal. Lira immediately responded to an email from Jill Wilson, Aston University’s The Hub, urging those affected to speak up. Lira communicated how she felt helpless being a self-supporting student, losing her job due to a company  plant closure and decided to invest her compensation in postgraduate studies in the UK.

When Jill mentioned that Aston may be able to help her family through fundraising, Lira requested help for her entire hometown of Barugo instead,  as everyone there, not only her family, needed help.  Lira, alongside Elsa Zenatti-Daniels of the Student Support, liaised with Circulo Barugueno, an organisation that carry out relief operations. The fundraising effort was a huge success, raising £11,725, which was then used to buy food packs and building materials. Lira says, "In a time of desperate need, Aston uplifted the spirits of the Barugo people. We can't thank them enough and we will never forget them.

Lira has just been accepted to attend Pioneers into Practice of the Climate KIC, Europe's main knowledge and innovation arm in tackling climate change.

Hannah Snell

After completing a BA degree in French and Spanish at Swansea University, Hannah Snell decided to undertake an MA degree in translation. 

“After looking at several options across the country, I chose Aston University for my MA degree because of the excellent reputation of its translation studies department, and the course did not disappoint”. 

The MA in Translation in a European Context not only taught Hannah how to translate well, but also showed her the many different career options available to a translation studies graduate. She describes the teaching on the course as first class and values the fact that she met many likeminded students.

Following her MA, Hannah worked as a project manager and then an account manager for two different translation companies before making the decision to set up her own translation company, The Very Good Translation Company Ltd. 

“This exciting venture is going well and I am confident of my business’s success in the future. Making the decision to set up my own company was a difficult one, but I am so happy that I did, and I hope that future Aston graduates can do the same thing!”

Hannah Snell

Harpreet Dhaliwal

Harpreet Dhaliwal

Harpreet Dhaliwal, Computing for Business student, decided to do her industrial placement at Capgemini, an IT consultancy company. She knew that a year in industry would give her the chance to practice the theory she learnt at university in a real life company. 

“The experience was invaluable and turned me, a university student, into a professional individual with many skills. These skills will help me during the remaining year of my degree and in the future”. 

Working with a large IT corporation, Harpreet was exposed to many areas and, from this, was able to build a network of people. The Capgemini Delivery Award was awarded to Harpreet because of her drive and persistence in ensuring 94% of the Project Managers at Capgemini gained the internal certification required. Her accountability of the process meant that she had to liaise with her network and use her initiative to drive it forward. Her involvement helped to ensure the process ran smoothly in the future. She also helped the whole team to organise the process in a more efficient way.

Harpreet recommends doing a placement as part of a degree course as it gives skills that can only be learnt through practice in an industry. 

Sybil Akua Obuobi

Sybil Akua Obuobi is a commonwealth scholar admitted to Aston’s MSc Drug Delivery program in 2012. She completed the program with distinction and was subsequently admitted to National university of Singapore (NUS) as a PhD student.

While attending Aston, Sybil’s extracurricular activities included being a course representative. Last year, Sybil was selected to be a part of the 2013 commonwealth residential school. She also featured on the cover of the January 2014 issue of Commonwealth News. 

Keen to be a part of discussions surrounding the interdisciplinary issues of global impact, attending the residential school allowed Sybil to network while being educated. At the end of the residential, Sybil was clear about the contribution each sector makes towards sustainability and, as a result, gained clarity about her own contributions. 

Sybil also co-authored a review paper published in Current Drug Delivery based on ‘Improving Brain Drug Targeting Through Exploitation of The Nose-to-Brain Route: A Physiological and Pharmacokinetic Perspective’.

Sybil’s PhD at National university of Singapore is enabling her acquire extensive knowledge in the field of tissue engineering and hydrogel drug delivery whilst expanding her research skills. Pursuing a PhD brings Sybil a step closer to her career aspirations of which Aston played a pivotal role.

Sybil Obuobi

Jordha Singh Sanghera

Jordha Singh Sanghera

Hungry to learn about retail from a young age, Jordha Singh Sanghera was involved in the family retail business since the age of 10. He eventually worked his way up to become Director of Bells Supermarkets Ltd while completing a Management & Strategy degree at Aston Business School. 

“Growing up in a retail environment, everyone was talking about our businesses and I wanted to find out more about them and the industry in general.”

During his second year Jordha founded and became President of Aston Business Employment Society, which focused on connecting talented students with blue-chip organisations, with the aim being to secure industrial placements for the students.

Jordha carried out his industrial placement with a major international retailer, and during this time was given responsibility to manage a store, were he directly managed a team of 20. He also helped to manage a district. This experience helped Jordha better understand the retail sector, allowing him to go through stages of personal development. 

Senior Management at Jordha’s placement organisations commented “Jordha has shown that he has the ambition, determination, reliability and initiative required to succeed in a fast paced business environment. I wish him all the best in his career and I can honestly say that it would be a pleasure to work with him in the future”

Konrad Zawada

Konrad Zawada is an International Business and Management student at Aston Business School. During his placement at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Konrad recognised the importance of philanthropy and giving back to the society by helping the less fortunate on a regular basis. 

After completing his placement, Konrad spent his summer volunteering in Uganda, building and renovating primary schools in impoverished areas in order to give children the access to education they deserve. Soon after Konrad felt that it was time to help other people, and on New Year’s Eve Konrad organised a 12h (6pm-6am) Charity Taxi fundraising event to raise money for the life-saving treatment of a 5-year-old girl fighting cancer (Neuroblastoma stage IV). Konrad’s initiative went viral on the Internet and in turn reached thousands of people.  

Commenting on his achievement, Konrad said “I was overwhelmed by the amount of calls during the night, Around 2-3am I had a call every 2 minutes. Some people were even willing to wait for me for 2.5h in order to support this great cause”. 

During the 12h of driving Konrad managed to raise more than £400 towards the child’s life-saving cancer treatment. Moreover Konrad’s promotional Internet campaign resulted in an increased awareness of the child’s critical condition and contributed to the increased number of online donations.

Konrad Zawada

MBA students

MBA students

“There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”. With these famous words of Nelson Mandela, a team of five MBA Full Time students - Adiba Ali, Janet Bolo, Princess Chifiero & Wumi Akinmoladun, Daniel Sira advanced to the London regional finals of the Hult Prize - the world’s largest student competition and start-up platform for social good. Team TIBA, earned a Special Mention for creativity and passion. TIBA means ‘To Heal’ in Swahili and ‘Energy and Ambition’ in Numerology. 

The competition involved coming up with a social enterprise idea to tackle the growing healthcare issue of non-communicable diseases in urban slums. The winning solution receives USD 1,000,000 as seed capital and would be expected to impact the lives of 25 million slum dwellers by 2019. Despite having first-hand experience of the problems faced by slum dwellers in their home countries, the team faced the challenge of competing against the world’s top schools –e.g. Yale and Oxford. TIBA unique idea aims to tackle both health and environment issues in the community. 

Team Tiba propose a gradual change in lifestyle through the recycling of rubbish. By employing local hands and partnering with recycling companies, families can collect points for use at designated Tiba health centre in exchange for their rubbish. 

Team TIBA seeks to positively impact the world and their communities through our own transformation as successful social entrepreneurs and/or business managers.

Atiya Choudhury

Atiya Choudhury is an MSc student and a member of Aston’s Non-linearity and Complexity Research Group (NCRG). Currently working as a mathematics interventionist at Heartlands Academy secondary school, Atiya has a consistent history of helping others develop personally, professionally and academically. 

Alongside studying for her MSc by Research in Mathematics of Complex Systems, Atiya served as a Mathematics Peer Assisted Learning Scheme facilitator and Aston University mentor. The latter role involved providing support and guidance to undergraduates, by helping them develop different study techniques and sharing personal learning methods. It also involved informing students about all of the guidance, facilities and opportunities available to them. 

“This role alongside teaching at the university has put me in a position where students look up to me and seek advice from me. Therefore it has become crucial for me to always stay positive and show enthusiasm for the course and also encourage postgraduate education.”

As well as helping others, Atiya believes that she has developed essential listening and problem solving skills by carrying out these roles. Currently Student Representative for MSc by Research in Mathematics of Complex Systems (2013), Atiya has chosen to be a postgraduate mentor for the academic year 2014-2015. 

Atiya Choudhury

Dinesh Logendran

Dinesh Logendran

Dinesh Logendran is an MSc Investment Analysis student, having graduated with a BSc in Mathematics in 2013.

Dinesh took over as Chair of the Mathletes society last year with the aim of making the society more connected with the mathematics department, while maintaining the society’s social aspect. Working with senior members within the Mathematics department, Dinesh cites his involvement with the Mathletes society as a reason for his development in confidence. As a part of his role, Dinesh invited numerous local employers to give careers and placement talks to Mathematics students, all of which have been a great success.

Dinesh also assisted in the pioneering of the maths department’s Peer Assisted Learning scheme and, being a mathematics graduate, Dinesh has served as a teaching assistant for the maths department.

Dinesh has been a part of Aston’s cricket club for 4 years, recently leading the team to victory in the cricket club’s inter club indoor premier league tournament. Having a competitive sporting background alongside being Chairman of the Mathletes society, Dinesh has gained the skills that have led to him becoming a natural leader. 

Dinesh will undertake a summer internship with the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) and then travel to Sri Lanka at the end of August to teach English and Maths to orphaned children.

Gaik Samsonian and Viktorija Rudenko

Aston graduates, Gaik Samsonian (BSc International Business Management, 2013) and Viktorija Rudenko (BSc Hons. Business and International Relations, 2014) came up with the idea to open their own sushi restaurant in the summer of 2013. Being true sushi lovers and experts, they found it difficult to find good sushi in Birmingham; they wanted greater variety, better taste and better quality.

After conducting research, the pair found a gap in the market, and this is how Sushi Time was created. As new entrepreneurs, they were unable to rent a premise on the main streets of Birmingham because agents perceived them to be inexperienced and ‘risky business’. This forced Gaik and Viktorija to open their restaurant in Martineau Place, launching a heavy marketing campaign to increase footfall. 

After various difficulties, they finally opened to public in 2014. In the first two months, Sushi Time made an appearance on TripAdvisor’s list of the ‘Top 100 restaurants of Birmingham’ and Just Eat and Hungry House’s list of the ‘Top 20 deliveries of Birmingham’. 

Gaik and Viktorija believe that there is potential in this area and that society has finally received a product that they will love. 

Gaik and Viktorija

Kay Stevenson

Kay Stevenson

Kay Stevenson, Foundation Degree in Logistics graduate and CILT (Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport) National Prize recipient, featured on BBC's 'Sing While You Work' and became Coordinator for the Royal Mail Choir, who have since appeared at several events in the UK and Europe to raise money for charity, reaching their target of £50,000.   

The Royal Mail Choir's donation contributed to Royal Mail's fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK which has raised at least £2 million for Prostate Cancer UK in April 2014. For every penny raised by colleagues, Royal Mail matched it. The money is being used to fund at least 34 specialist prostate cancer nurses. Twelve nurses have already been placed in areas with high rates of prostate cancer.

Kay said, "Royal Mail sponsored me to do the Foundation Degree in Logistics at Aston University and I wanted to use my skills help to do some good for others as I am very grateful for the excellent opportunity, very proud of the choir and Royal Mail's charity donation achievement."

Kay continues to sing with the choir and we are looking forward to our next charity target for 2014/15.  

“As well as fundraising, singing in a workplace choir has given me the opportunity to work with David Ogden our brilliant conductor and given me a whole new interest in a different type of music. “