UK education “making dreams a reality” for alumni
“Making dreams a reality is a common thread throughout the lives and stories of our Alumni Awards finalists,” said Elizabeth Tresnan, campaign director for Study UK, at North American awards ceremony at The British Embassy in Washington DC.
The British Council’s Study UK Alumni Awards is celebrated in multiple locations throughout the world, with finalists then eligible to apply for the worldwide award in one of the four categories: Business and Innovation, Science and Sustainability, Culture and Creativity, and Social Action.
Tresnan said the awards – held on February 17 – offer alumni the opportunity to not only be recognised for their achievements, but also, “a chance to continue to build professional networks, strengthen relationships with the UK and UK universities, and to benefit from international development opportunities.”
As each finalist was announced, their accomplishments in their respective fields were showcased.
Iyanna Halilou is an investor at Moxxie Ventures and a partner at the MBA Fund. A current MBA student at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Halilou was recently named a top rising star in venture capital by Business Insider.
Speaking with The PIE about her Business and Innovation win, Halilou said, “This event is a symbol of my education in the UK. For me it signifies resilience and never giving up.” She said coming to UK as an English learner, before attending Durham University.
“Tonight is the pinnacle of all of the things I’ve been able to achieve to date,” she continued. Halilou said she is both honoured and humbled to be selected for the award and hopes to be an inspiration for African women.
The winner of the Science and Sustainability category, Giovanni Pittiglio, attended University of Leeds and now works as a research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
“It’s important to celebrate what a one can achieve after their education in UK and how the knowledge acquired in a UK education can be applied to serve others on a global scale,” Pittiglio told The PIE.
Social Impact winner Michelle Szydlowski is also applying her UK education globally. Educated at the University of Exeter, her specialty is conservation, exotic animal medicine, and anthrozoology. Her research focuses on the health and welfare of captive elephants and the marginalised communities that care for them.
“This event highlights the importance of a UK education”
Szydlowski shared with The PIE that her win was also “a win for non-traditional student populations.” As a neurodivergent woman who earned her graduate degrees later in life via distance education, she seeks to impress upon others to let nothing stand in their way of their education.
Rachel Koller Croft was unable to attend the event in person, but sent a video message to thank The British Council and the University of East Anglia for the Culture and Creativity award and for the inspiration and confidence it gave her to succeed as a writer.
In addition to the award, the four category winners each receive a $1,500 prize to continue their professional development.
“This event highlights the importance of a UK education and the difference it has made in the journey of alumni. They are trailblazers in their fields and truly ambassadors for the UK,” Tresnan told The PIE.
Likewise, director of English language, education, and society at The British Council, Camila Morsch, spoke with The PIE about the transformative nature of a UK educational experience. “These awards help foster long-term collaboration between UK and the home country of the alumni. It’s a connection to the UK that does not go away. And the awards highlight the deep impact each has made in their community,” she said.
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