Calling all UCL graduates:
your university needs you!
Your UCL experience doesn’t end the day you graduate – which is why so many alumni around the world are staying involved and giving something back.
Words Sarah Woodward Illustrations Alex Williamson
Luna Irshaid (BEng 2011; Master’s in Project Enterprise and Management 2012) is a Director of Wingate White, a real estate intelligence and advisory firm. She established the UCL Arab Alumni Group in 2015.
Through work, I was finding myself more and more connected to the Arab business scene in London and started inviting my friends along to events celebrating the Arab world of art, culture and food. Then I discovered that no university in London had an Arab alumni association. So, three years after graduating, I decided to set up the UCL Arab Alumni Group. Now we have around 150 members.
Our only criterion is that you have an interest in the Arab-speaking world – many of our members aren’t Arab by birth, they are simply interested in Arab culture. One of our most recent events was at a specialist restaurant in Soho that specialises in authentic street food from Jerusalem. We also had an event at the Mosaic Rooms in Kensington during their exhibition of the works of the great Syrian artist Marwan Kassab-Bachi. I hope we provide a different perspective on the region’s culture and business from that generally shared on mainstream media.
My message to students is “don’t forget to stay connected when you leave” – your network is one of your most valuable assets, and the wealth of your connections is what gets you places outside of university. When I look at my friends who have graduated from US universities, they maintain very strong connections, and I hope we are fostering that at UCL. When people leave, I want them to know that there is something beyond university called Arab Alumni. And we have a lot of fun!
Mariem Ayadi (Computer Science 2015) studied as an undergraduate at Smith College (2012-2016). She is now a Software Developer at Credit Suisse in New York City and is a member of the NYC Alumni Committee.
I moved to New York City about a year and a half ago, after graduating, and started going to the UCL alumni group pretty much straight away. I found I’d joined a young and active group with lots of events going on.
The international forum was especially appealing to me. I am Tunisian/Moroccan by birth and grew up in Tunisia, so it was a great way to meet interesting people from other nationalities. Being someone from overseas who studied at UCL and ended up living in New York, you generally have a story to tell.
Though I am a new member, I was recently asked to join the NYC Alumni Committee. I hadn’t even thought I’d be eligible as I only spent a semester at UCL, but I do feel connected to the school and I had met quite a few committee members at events.
I suggested a talk by another alumnus, Amy Whitaker, who has written a book on bringing together the mindsets of art and the tools of business. Now we are busy planning that and, as a committee member, I am also helping with other events – we usually have a packed schedule.
Our only criterion is thainstream media.
For me, it’s a way of meeting people from different backgrounds with one thing in common – we all studied at UCL. I don’t like to think of it as formal networking. It’s a way of sharing our interests and giving something back to the community.
UCL gave me the chance to work with globally recognised professors and develop my analytical skills in a really open-minded environment
James Huang (Law 1988) heads the Finance and Projects team of international law firm Baker McKenzie in Singapore, where he is part of the UCL alumni network.
If I hadn’t gone to UCL, my career would not have taken the course it has. I would probably have ended up staying as a lawyer in Singapore. Instead, I have travelled the world and been involved in many transactions in different jurisdictions. So I feel a strong connection to the university that transformed my life.
I didn’t get involved with the alumni group here until long after my graduation. A few years ago, I received an email from the London alumni office about the forthcoming visit of the Dean. They were looking for somewhere to hold an event in Singapore for prospective UCL students setting off to read law, just like me, and I was able to offer the use of my office. It was very interesting to meet the students – things have changed so much since my time. Most of them were already familiar with London, whereas I had only been to London once before I started my degree and it was the first time I had lived in a different country.
The largest foreign contingent at UCL is from Singapore, so we should have a very active alumni network, but everyone is so busy here. We do all we can, giving time and financial support where possible (I recently supported the Dementia Centre, for example, as my father suffered from the disease and it’s a growing problem here in Singapore). If anyone asks me whether they should support UCL I always encourage them to do so, in whatever way they can.
Dr. Weerapong Prasongchean (PhD, UCL Institute of Child Health 2011) is a Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, where he is part of the loose UCL network of alumni in Thailand.
My life changed completely from the moment I decided to study in the UK. I come from a poor family in Thailand, but UCL gave me the chance to work with globally recognised professors and develop my analytical thinking skills in a really open-minded environment. Last year the British Council awarded me the Study UK Alumni Award for Social Impact.
In the second year of my PhD in Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology I co-founded Health Challenge Thailand, a network for Thai students in the UK and Thai professionals. I also founded STEMkids to inspire young students in the fields of stem cell science, neuroscience and pharmacy. After I finished studying, I became involved with ThaiHealth, a project that promotes good health among vulnerable populations.
One of my aims is to use the expertise I have gained through my education to link Thai students with the government to help fight the health challenge here.
I am also keen to help other students from disadvantaged backgrounds in Thailand. There are a lot of UCL alumni here, with many skills to offer. As yet, there is no formal alumni organisation, but we are a pioneer community bringing together what we have learned at UCL to help communities in Thailand.
To find out how you can get involved, visit www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni
- Contents 2017/18
- We Want to Hear From You...
- UCL Leads on Dementia
- Free Radical
- Festival A Hit
- Jeremy Bentham Speaks
- Extra Curricular
- Experts And Facts
- For Facts’ Sake
- A Different Type of Capitalist Market
- The Big C
- Trump In The Age Of Captain America
- The Front Line Of Justice
- Calling All UCL Graduates
- The Strong Room
- This idea must die
- London vs World