University opened my mind to new approaches to ideas and situations

Alumni spotlight | Saalika Jiwani, BA (Hons) International Relations, Class of 2021


Saalika Jiwani

Saalika Jiwani –  Dean's Prize  for Excellence in Politics & International Relations: Overall Performance and Best Independent Project

What have been the highlights of your degree?

I have loved being a student at Leeds Beckett and will treasure my experiences throughout my life. Some of the highlights of my degree were organising group socials, being a course ambassador and the volunteering placement I did with LASSN as part of the active citizenship module. As someone who enjoys positive relationships with course mates and staff, I realised I had to take the initiative to make the most of my experience by planning group outings and working closely with the course team on the applicant and open days, which paid off.

I have loved getting to know so many inspirational people from different backgrounds and walks of life, which has opened my mind to new approaches to ideas and situations. As a result, I have developed a critical way of thinking regarding politics and daily life situations by accepting the possibility of thinking outside the norm. I believe the beauty of International Relations is that not everyone will always agree, but that can be positive and allow you to grow mentally.

Throughout my volunteering experience, I have had the opportunity to learn a range of skills such as planning, being creative and leading situations, which have helped me in my personal and professional life. I have also loved the annual PIR festivals, with various guest speakers who share their knowledge and wisdom about current world affairs.

The incredible thing about my degree is that there is something that interests everyone and that everything in life is political!

What's next for you?

As I wasn't born in the UK and my parents moved here for my education, I feel so grateful to have had this opportunity and be passionate about learning. My drive and spark come from the fact that I have access to education when others do not, and hopefully, this is something I can contribute to and impact other people's lives.

Currently, I am working within the UK Civil Service, and this has already opened up so many opportunities for me, and hopefully, I can work my way up. However, I am not limited in my goals for the future and want to get involved with anything that makes a real, long-term impact.

I am so excited about my future. I'm not sure exactly where I want to end up as there are endless opportunities with this degree. Perhaps I will want to take a step further and study for a masters. But either way, I just want to keep learning and growing.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your degree?

The most rewarding part of my degree was that I got to work on an independent project that mattered and was personal to me. As a Muslim woman, living in the west can be pretty challenging, given the controversial portrayals of Muslim communities. As Islamic communities are so diverse and differ in schools of thought and religious practices, it was important to me to address Islamophobia.

By researching the effect of colonial impacts and legacies on Muslim communities, I discovered a lot about my own identity and others. Regardless of the amount of impact my argument makes in the academic field, I am much more motivated to continue researching and unpacking western biases regarding this topic.

It has been so rewarding to work on something that I genuinely care about and be recognised for by winning the Dean's Award for Best Independent Project. This is not something I even imagined, and I am grateful for it, but the hard work and knowledge does not stop here. I am determined to take everything I have learned from the most amazing lecturers and keep building on it.

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