Young, Asian and amazing- University of Bradford YAYA nominees
GROWING up, Mohammed Hamad often felt like an outcast, left out and unable to join in. It was when he came to the University of Bradford that he finally felt he belonged.
He said: “Meeting different kinds of people from different backgrounds made being at university so enjoyable. I also felt very supported by the university, who did everything they could to help me.”
Mohammed was born with Fuhrmann Syndrome, a rare genetic condition which affects the development of his limbs. He has been nominated for a Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers award - better known as the YAYAs - in the Overcoming Life’s Obstacles category, sponsored by the University of Bradford.
Mohammed, 26, pictured below, said: “The nomination came out of the blue. My family are so proud of what I have achieved and what I’ve done to be recognised like this.”
The YAYAs, now in their fourth year, are organised by the QED Foundation, a charity which exists to improve the social and economic position of disadvantaged communities in partnership with public, private and civil society organisations. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Friday, 17 November.
Mohammed, a wheelchair-user, says his condition means he faces daily challenges.
He said: “Furhmann Syndrome affects my mobility. Daily routines that other people find easy can be challenging.
“For example, going to the shops, I have to plan the journey, whether there might be roadworks or other obstacles on the route, there might be steps in the shop and so on.
“Things like getting dressed and brushing my teeth take longer than most people because I don’t have a full range of movement.”
Growing up in Bradford’s West Park with his younger siblings, Muzammal and Zahra, Mohammed thrived at school, firstly at Crossley Hall Primary and then at The Challenge College, now Oasis Academy Lister Park.
He said: “I liked pushing myself and testing my limits with my school work. I enjoyed the challenge and did well.”
Pictured above: Mohammed as a child
Socially though, he often felt isolated.
“Being different at school was sometimes hard,” he said. “I was the only pupil in a wheelchair. There were often activities I couldn’t get involved in. Sometimes other children in my age group didn’t really understand my situation.
“I didn’t feel part of a group.”
That changed when he started his BSc in Accounting and Finance at the University of Bradford. At the time, his lectures were split between the City campus and the School of Management’s former home on Emm Lane, Bradford.
Mohammed said: “I learned to drive and the University provided a disabled car parking permit, which made a huge difference to my life. It might sound like a simple thing but that small act really improved my studies as well as my confidence, because I knew I could get to my classes without a struggle.”
He graduated in 2018 with a 2.1 and is now working as a Purchase Ledger Officer in the NHS, where he can make his own difference to others.
He said: “My job is to process payments to buy equipment to help patients. I’ve been in and out of hospital during my life and I’ve benefited from the amazing work the NHS does. I always knew I wanted to go into a career that would allow me to give back. I know I’m using my skillset to directly impact people’s lives.”
- Safura Said, from Halifax, pictured below, studied LLB Law and graduated in 2015. She is nominated for a YAYA in the Private Sector or Young Entrepreneur category. She overcame an abusive relationship to qualify as a conveyancer. A keen hiker, Safura is passionate about raising awareness of mental health and encouraging women to get active outdoors. She said: “You spend so long in survival mode you forget what it feels like to be appreciated or noticed. To be shortlisted for this award is truly overwhelming.
- Zenab Sabahat, pictured second below, a PhD Researcher with Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, graduated from the University of Bradford in 2021 with an MSc in Psychology of Health and Wellbeing. She had previously carried out a BSc in Psychology at Bradford. Zenab is a passionate advocate for race equity within mental health care and is nominated in the Health, Mental Health and Healthcare category. She said: “It is truly humbling. I stand where I am today solely because of God Almighty and I owe all my success to him. Nothing would have been possible without His support and guidance, for which I am eternally grateful.”
- Children’s nurse Nusaybah Tufail, 22, pictured below, works at the neonatal ward at Bradford Royal Infirmary. She is also nominated in the Health, Mental Health and Healthcare category. She graduated from the University of Bradford in 2019, with a degree in Children’s Nursing. She said: “I am the first female in my family to have finished university. I had a baby at 21, while I was studying for my degree. To be nominated for this award feels unreal. I am so grateful. Having my achievements recognised is an amazing feeling.”
- Current University of Bradford student Umair Khan, pictured below, moved from Pakistan to Bradford when he was 11, where he had to learn a new language. A year later, he underwent surgery to his heart, having been born with a rare heart condition. Then, while studying for his A levels, Umair suffered the loss of his father. Now, due to graduate with a BSc in Accountancy and Finance next summer, Umair is nominated in the Achievement in School or College category.
Professor Amir Sharif, Dean of the Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences, said: "It is amazing to see and hear these stories of courage, commitment, resilience, challenge and success from these nominees. Each one is inspiring and full of hope! This is a real testament to each of the shortlisted nominees and we very committed to ensuring that the university supports and develops students to achieve their potential, and to be a place that allows students to thrive. The University of Bradford is such a place that makes a difference to every student and our communities. Congratulations to all the nominees and the best of luck."