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UEL education champion named NEON student of the year

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Judges praise Yasmin Haque's impact

A dedicated champion of under-represented communities, Yasmin Haque, has landed the prestigious title of student of the year for her “impactful” and “dedicated” work as a curriculum ambassador.

Yasmin, currently studying MSc Occupational and Organisational Psychology at the University of East London, was unveiled as the winner during the annual NEON Awards, which has members in higher education institutions across the country.

After her win, Yasmin said, “The award means so much to me because I love the work I do as an ambassador, and I know just how important it is.

“I’ve delivered sessions to countless pupils and every one of them has their own story, each one being just as significant as the other. It’s crucial that these pupils are heard and seen in the world of educational equality, and that their stories are used to elevate them, not restrict them.

“The ambassador scheme allowed me to be one of the many individuals who helps pave the way for these pupils, so for my team to take time out of their day to ensure my work is recognised and even awarded, is the highest form of praise.”

The award called for a student who had made an “innovative and distinctive” contribution to widening access to higher education.

NEON director Professor Graeme Atherton cited Yasmin’s dedication as a long-standing curriculum ambassador and her impactful work reaching out to people from non-traditional backgrounds and offering them different routes to study at UEL.

Yasmin spoke of the moment her name was called during the virtual ceremony on 10 June.

She said, “My initial reaction was complete shock. I was thinking ‘is this really happening?’ I was placed among such strong and inspiring nominees, so I felt so honoured that I had won. Once it had sunk in, I couldn’t help but be so cheery because I was so happy and proud of myself. It was a very powerful moment for me.  

“I definitely did not expect to end the last year of my studies at UEL as the winner of the NEON Student of the Year Awards - it feels amazing and I hope it encourages more students to get involved in the ambassador scheme so they too can help pave the way for under-represented communities.”

Also shortlisted at the event was the University of East London’s Funded Internship Scheme - nominated for the “widening access initiative” award.

The Funded Internship Scheme allows students to take up an internship, internally or externally, and be paid the London Living Wage.

NEON – national educational opportunity network – is an independent body that celebrates the accomplishments of members who widen access to higher education and enable social mobility.