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York student wins prestigious award

Ruhee Dawood has been recognised for her work mentoring STEM students

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Image Credit: Ruhee Dawood

On Thursday 4 November, University of York Chemistry PHD candidate Ruhee Dawood won a prestigious award at the Yorkshire AsianYoung Achiever Awards (YAYAs) in Bradford.

First launched in 2020, the YAYA’s celebrate 16-30 year olds of South Asian Heritage who were born, live or work in Yorkshire. QED UK, a social enterprise that works to improve the circumstances of disadvantaged communities, are in charge of running the awards.

After being shortlisted alongside 33 other candidates, Ruhee won her category for the ‘YAYAs Achievement in School or College’ award category which recognizes her work mentoring STEM students. The category looked to recognise individuals who “show others just what can be achieved by application, hard work and determination.”

Ruhee, who is of Indian descent, was born and raised in Kenya before being awarded a Sharifah Sofia Albukhary Scholarship to study Chemistry at York.Despite the difficulties that come with studying during a pandemic, Ruhee graduated at the top of her year and was awarded the Whinfield Medal in recognition of her achievement.

If this wasn’t impressive enough, Ruhee then went on to win a second scholarship to fund her PHD at York in the Molecular Energy group which is head-ed by Dr Alyssa-Jennifer Avestro.

Aware of the importance of role models and giving back to others, Ruhee works as a mentor for the STEM Women Kuongoza Program, which aims to em-power women and girls across Africa,South Asia and the Middle East.

Ruhee told the University of York that “It can be very hard to consistently perform at your highest level without having a role model who understands your circumstances and helps you over come the barriers you are faced with to be successful.“I was very lucky to find a role model during my undergraduate degree to inspire the best out of me and to support me through my PhD and scholarship applications.”

Ruhee’s influence has already had notable effects as one of her mentees from Nigeria has been inspired by her to pursue further education in America. Another of her mentees from India has recently been successful in applying for the same PHD scholarship, a Chemistry Wild Fund Platinum Award.

As an undergraduate Ruhee was a representative in the Department’s Equality and Diversity Group and is now a postgraduate representative. Alongside senior professors and the head of department Professor Caroline Dessent, Ruhee also recently helped with efforts to decolonise the curriculum by co-authoring a paper in the ACS Journal ofChemical Education.

Nouse reached out to Ruhee and she said: “I’m really pleased that the achievements of the South Asian Community in Yorkshire are being recognised so I want to say a big thank you to QED and all the sponsors for a wonderful evening at the YAYAs Award Ceremony and Dinner. Also a big congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the night!"

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