Utrecht University students nominated for ECHO Award 2019 and UAF-Award 2019

Awards for extraordinary academic achievements and social involvement

Avin Ghedri en minister Ingrid van Engelshoven
Winner of the ECHO Award 2018 UU-student Avin Ghedri (left) and Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (right)

This year, three students from Utrecht University have been recommended for the ECHO Award 2019; two of them have been nominated. Another student from Utrecht University has been nominated for the UAF-Award 2019.

ECHO Award 2019

The ECHO Award is an initiative by the Expertise Centre for Diversity Policy. Its goal is to generate positive attention for individual successes by students from the multi-cultural society. Students who qualify for an ECHO Award are successful students of non-Western backgrounds who distinguish themselves with their outstanding academic achievements, boundary-pushing attitudes, bridging qualities, active social involvement and leadership.

The two nominees for the ECHO Award 2019 are:

  • Simone Aumaj (Research Master Gender Studies, nominated by Professor Dr Sandra Ponzanesi). Both within and outside the academic world, Simone dedicates herself to diversity and inclusion. At an academic level, she is an excellent student who has an eye for practice. She also dedicates her leadership qualities as an ambassador, a role model and a mediator in various places within and outside the university.
  • Zahraa Attar (Research Master Linguistics, nominated by Marijana Marelj and Professor Dr Elma Blom). Zahraa has had a complicated journey: she fled from Syria to the Netherlands and gave it her all to be admitted to her research Master's programme. She completed it with an above-average result, combining it with her young family. Zahraa’s research contributes to the reduction of inequality of opportunities in the Dutch education system. She has spoken about this topic at conferences and non-scientific meetings on multiple occasions.

Chahida Bouhamou (Master Social Policy and Public Health, nominated by Dr Nienke Boesveldt) has been recommended for the ECHO Award 2019 as well. Chahida stands out with her continuous dedication in the fields of diversity and advocacy on the one hand, and her research into homelessness and psychiatry on the other hand. She did an internship at Movisie, the national expertise centre for social issues, enabling her to bridge the gap between theory and practice. She was also involved in setting up a buddy project for first-generation students with non-Western backgrounds.

The presentation of the ECHO Award 2019 is on 26 September 2019. The winners will be rewarded with a fully arranged Summer Course at the University of California Los Angeles in the United States.

UAF-Award 2019

The UAF-Award is presented annually to candidates who stand out due to extraordinary academic or work achievements and who dedicate themselves to society. This award symbolises the dedication and perseverance of refugees who build new futures here. The UAF supports highly educated refugees in realising suitable social positions by means of suitable education and employment.

This year, Dalal Ghanim has been nominated for the UAF-Award. She is currently in the final stage of the Bachelor's programme of Pharmacy, works in a pharmacy besides her education and teaches remedial classes to secondary-school students. She came from Iraq to the Netherlands when she was 17 and has since become a familiar face in the social debate about Yazidis. Dalal recently received a scholarship from the Rosanna Fund. The UAF-Award jury has selected Dalal as one of the nominees because they was impressed by her perseverance, her motivation and her broad-scale social involvement.