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National education award for careers adviser

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UCLan careers and employability adviser Monira Ahmed with her award for services to education

Monira Ahmed wins British Muslim Award for services to education

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) careers adviser has won a British Muslim Award for her service to education.

Monira Ahmed beat off stiff competition from research professors and high profile academics from across the United Kingdom to claim the prestigious prize.

The part-time careers and graduate employability adviser, who attended the ceremony in Leicester on Wednesday night, said: “I was so honoured and very proud to have made the shortlist of 10 alongside some very high profile academics so I didn’t think I’d have a chance of winning it. Being a finalist was such an amazing achievement so to be named the winner was wonderful.

I was so honoured and very proud to have made the shortlist of 10 alongside some very high profile academics so I didn’t think I’d have a chance of winning it.

“The announcer didn’t read the winning name straightaway but started talking about the person’s career. As soon as they mentioned careers adviser I knew it was me so I turned to my dad and said ‘I’ve won, that’s me they’re talking about’. It was an absolutely wonderful feeling and then my main concern was then walking to the stage in killer heels and a long dress!”

The 39-year-old, from Southport, has worked in higher education for nearly 20 years and has spent the past five years at UCLan’s Campus in Preston.

Monira, who also writes a careers blog, said: “When I was a student at university I was listening to a talk about the challenges which British Muslims face in education and employment. That talk was the catalyst and it paved the way for my future because I knew from that moment on I wanted to help people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, with their ambitions and goals.”

The Services to Education Award 2017, which was sponsored by Qatar Charity UK, is not the first award for Monira. Last year she scooped the national Careers Champion award.

Rachel Atkinson | 27 January 2017