Recognising UK alumni who have made an exceptional contribution and commitment to creating positive social change and improving the lives of others.

AMERICAS: Maria Fernanda Sierra Perea (United States)

University of Sussex; Chevening scholar

Maria manages VIVE, a Trust for the Americas project that has provided skills-based training to over 50,000 vulnerable women in Mexico. VIVE empowers women with the tools they need to become financially independent, recognise and prevent gender-based violence, and transform their lives. Maria co-founded the Sussex Alumni association and was a founding committee member of RedBrit, the Association of Alumni of British Universities in Colombia. She considers herself an ambassador for UK education.

EAST ASIA: Sitta Marattanachai (Thailand)

Imperial College London

Sitta is an environmental and youth advocate. In 2019, she founded Smogathon Thailand, which brings together environmentalists and technology experts to design innovative solutions to air pollution. Prior to this, Sitta helped to create an entrepreneurship training programme for Thai youth, supporting 80 young people to begin their own businesses. She credits her time in the UK with developing her creativity, confidence and critical thinking, skills she has since applied to her career. Read more

EUROPE: Eliza Casapopol (Romania)

University of Oxford

Eliza is the co-founder of the Romanian Science Festival, a national event aimed at increasing access to high-quality science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education. The festival promotes inclusion and diversity in STEM, focusing on gender and social equality. Eliza was inspired to start the festival after representing the University of Oxford at Ireland Maths Week and witnessing first-hand the power of educational outreach. 

SOUTH ASIA: Marryam Khan (Pakistan)

SOAS University of London; Chevening scholar

Marryam is Deputy Commissioner, Okara. She is tackling inequality in the community by mobilising local philanthropists to support vital service delivery. Highlights of her work include opening a new gynaecology ward, benefitting 80,000 women each year, and constructing a 200-bed homeless shelter. Marryam has been recognised by the Daniel K Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies for her role in developing Pakistan’s first National Counter Extremism Policy Guidelines.  


SSA: Albert Opoku (Ghana)

University of Bath; Chevening scholar

Albert is the co-founder of hapaSpace, a Kumasi-based hub that provides start-ups with training and mentorship opportunities. Since its launch in 2016, hapaSpace has supported more than 1,000 people to grow their businesses. Albert has further contributed to the tech ecosystem in Ghana through his Google-funded Code4Girls project, which trained 1,242 girls in computer programming. He describes the access to world-class tech facilities, events and experts as the highlight of his UK education.

SUB SAHARAN AFRICA: Misha Patel (Zimbabwe)

Imperial College London, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Misha is the co-founder of the Zola Collective, a platform that brings a range of sustainable African products to the world while offering opportunity and prosperity to local communities through fair trade practices. Their aim is to popularise and create a demand for the products and build an ethical supply chain to give local farmers a stable source of income. Misha credits the diverse personal and professional networks she developed in the UK with preparing her for an international career. 


WIDER EUROPE: Zumrud Jalilova (Azerbaijan)

University of Bristol

At Counterpart International Zumrud managed multiple training on business, entrepreneurship and digital marketing to improve employment opportunities for women, access to education and to counter violent extremism in 12 border regions. She taught Gender Studies in three languages at Baku State University and co-founded the first feminist collective Equals. Studying in the UK made her an independent thinker equipped to respond to intellectual, social and personal challenges in her field.