Egyptian Women Making an Impact: How Studying in the UK Empowered Them to Make a Difference

Studying in the UK

The United Kingdom has long been considered one of the top destinations for international students seeking a world-class education. With its prestigious universities, a diverse range of programmes, and opportunities for networking and professional development, it’s no wonder that so many students from around the world choose to study there and use their education to make real change. According to the HESA 2022 figures, there are 4,500 Egyptian students studying in the UK, and Egypt ranks as the fourth top country in the MENA region for sending students to the UK. For three Egyptian women, studying in the UK has proven to be a life-changing experience, one that has empowered them to make a positive impact in their communities and help as much as they can.

Aya AlSharqawy, Dalia ElAbd, and Aya Tarif are all female UK Alumni who have returned to Egypt and are using their education to make a difference. However, they each have a unique story to tell, but they share a common thread of using their knowledge and skills to empower their communities and make a positive impact on the environment and Egypt as a whole. They are also proud members of the UK Alumni Network in Egypt, a vibrant community of over 4500 Egyptian students and professionals who have studied in the UK.

So, what is their story? 

Aya Al-AlSharqawy is an Egyptian environmental researcher and entrepreneur who studied for her MSc in Environment and Development at the University of Leeds in 2020, fully funded by the prestigious international British Government Chevening Scholarship (2019-2020). She is a holder of a BSc in Botany and Chemistry from the Faculty of Science at Ain Shams University, 2011. Aya is passionate about environmental sustainability and has devoted her career to finding innovative solutions to the problems facing our planet. Aya is the CEO and co-founder of Recyclizer, an environmental waste management startup specializing in recycling plastic waste into plastic mulch films that protect agricultural crops in Egypt.

Ms AlSharqawy believes that studying in the UK has been a major factor in her success.

I feel like my entire personality has changed for the better, and I have become a more aware and mature person. The international network that I built during this time was of utmost importance for my career and especially for my startup, Recyclizer,” she says . I am now recognised as one of the most successful leaders in my field, and being a UK alumna has played a significant role in this.

Dalia ElAbd is an Egyptian filmmaker and producer who founded Blessing Films, a production company in Egypt. Dalia holds two MA degrees, the first from the University of Nottingham in the UK, an MA with Merit in International Relations (Chevening Scholarship), and the second from the American University in Cairo with high-class honors in Journalism and Mass Communications. After years of working in the marketing field, she decided to pursue her passion for filmmaking and music. Her latest work is “Spirit of Akhenaten”, a poetic documentary revealing the untold truth of the only monotheist Pharaoh and his son King Tut.

Ms ElAbd agrees that studying in the UK  opened doors to new opportunities

I learned from the UK how to rediscover my true self and how a woman can be confident, strong, and an independent free thinker. I planned my exit from the corporate world and began my artistic adventure as a filmmaker and adjunct faculty,” she says.  I have written and directed a poetic documentary revealing the untold truth about the first monotheistic Pharaoh Akhenaten and his son King Tut. six hundred people attended it in Cairo opera house’s main hall from all segments of society and different age groups, even teenagers showed interest.”

Aya Tarif, an environmental researcher, currently works as an associate lecturer at the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA). Aya recently obtained her PhD from the University of Sheffield in the UK with a full Newton-Mosharafa scholarship. Her research mainly focused on studying landfill leachate treatment using plasma as a pre-treatment step and green microalgae to couple wastewater treatment with valuable algal biomass production, thus performing wastewater treatment in an environmentally friendly, sustainable, and possibly cost-effective approach, which has the potential to make a positive impact on the environment and public health in Egypt.

Behind the Scenes of Every Success Story

These three women are just a few examples of the many talented Egyptian alumni who have returned to their home country after studying in the UK. Their success stories are a testament to the quality of education and the opportunities for personal and professional growth that studying in the UK can provide. They were able to take their education and benefit their community through it, paving the way for every woman that wants to follow a similar path. 

Joining the UK Alumni Network can provide alumni with exclusive industry events and masterclasses, opportunities for learning and career advancement, access to new opportunities, a chance to showcase their skills on a global stage, and the ability to connect with other UK alumni and build their network. It also allows them to tell their stories, along with helping other people choose their own narratives. 

UK alumni are among the most employable graduates in the world. Thirty-eight percent of Nobel laureates who studied abroad did so in the UK. The UK Alumni Network is run by the British Council.

The British Council is a UK international organization that promotes cultural relations and educational opportunities internationally. It offers a range of services including language learning, arts and culture programs, education and teacher training, and support for international students and researchers.

If you’re a UK graduate seeking opportunities to expand your professional network, you can join the UK Global Alumni Network here!

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