Zainab Alam, 19 from Walsall, has become one of the UK’s first students enrolled in a degree dedicated to social change.
Zainab will split her time between studying at London’s Queen Mary University and working as an apprentice at international charity WaterAid.
It was the problems of local gang violence and drugs that inspired Zainab to seek a career in the charitable sector. Before enrolling she worked in her local British Heart Foundation shop and organised fundraisers in her local mosque for the UK Islamic Mission.
Zainab will be employed by WaterAid throughout her studies, completing stints in different departments across the organisation. The innovative scheme will mean she graduates with zero student fees debt and up to four year’s work experience.
“I know a lot of families and people in Walsall whose lives are destroyed by gangs, stabbings and drugs. I am determined not to go down that path and want to show my friends that education is the key. University is important to me but so is a just and fairer world. This opportunity means I get to do both.
“WaterAid is a fantastic organisation working in some of the most challenging environments on earth to ensure everyone has access to clean water and decent toilets. My dream is to one day work in one of WaterAid’s country programmes.”
More than 500 people applied for the new BSc course, with only 13 students being awarded a coveted place. The degree apprenticeship focuses on the social sector, and involves a range of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises.
It is designed to encourage future leaders of thought and creativity to explore career opportunities in the social sector, equipping them with skills to tackle global challenges that lie ahead.
Rachel Westcott, WaterAid’s Director of People, said:
“Zainab is an incredible young person who already has an impressive background dedicated to social change. We welcome her to WaterAid and know that in the next few years we hope to inspire her as much as she has inspired us.”