For International Women’s Day we are shining a light on our diverse alumni community and the inspiring stories of where life has taken them since Essex and celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. 

Maryam Al-Subaiey

Maryam Al-Subaiey

BA Politics, 2003

Maryam was a Regional Winner in the British Council’s Study UK Alumni Awards in 2018 for her work inspiring young people in Qatar.

The Alumni Awards recognise alumni who studied in the UK and are now living overseas who have distinguished themselves through exemplary leadership and achievements in their professional industry, and who can demonstrate the impact and scale of their achievements in their profession, and beyond.

A founder of multiple projects supporting young people, Maryam is also a successful writer, producer, director and creative leader in Qatar. After creating her own start-up, she joined Qatar Television as the only woman and the youngest manager where she managed the re-launch and achieved a promotion to Director of Programs.

Maryam also broke barriers in 2017 by becoming the first female jockey to participate in a high-profile horse-racing event in Qatar. As a successful female role model, Maryam continues to inspire others as a freelance creative consultant.

She said: “My personal journey of self-empowerment has also inspired many young girls in Qatar who are afraid to take bold steps to achieve their dreams.”

Lilia Petrosyan

Lilia Petrosyan

LLM International Human Rights Law, 2013

Lilia was the only woman to be shortlisted in the Professional Achievement Award category in the 2020 British Council Study UK Alumni Awards.

As Consultant for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights where her responsibilities include supporting the organisation of and developing the annual UN Forum on Minority Issues. She has also supported the UN Special Rapporteur in developing guidance on eliminating statelessness.

Lilia said “I feel privileged to work for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights where I make my small contribution to the protection of vulnerable and marginalised communities around the world. I meet many courageous human rights defenders who fight for justice despite facing so many obstacles. I have learned from them that we must never give up.”

Lilia added: “Every day I go to work it’s not just a place that helps me to earn a living, or build a career, but it’s a place I truly believe has a power to change lives for the better. And that is the best part of my work.”

Narmin Akhundova

Narmin Akhundova

MSc in Molecular Medicine, 2015

Another international alumna winning the Professional Achievement British Council Study UK Awards, this time in 2021, Narmin has been recognised for her research into energy drink compounds and their effect on the human body.

“Today, all energy drinks imported to Azerbaijan have to meet requirements according to a new legislation brought in as a result of my research. Selling energy drinks to people under 18 years old is now banned in Azerbaijan after our findings on its anti-sedative effects,” added Narmin.

“Studying in the UK shaped me as an independent researcher and helped me to enhance my networking in the scientific community,” Narmin explained. “Essex shaped me into a better, stronger, more intellectual, and more determined researcher. It helped me to develop a critical mindset, enhance independent research capacity, and gain state-of-the-art theoretical and practical skills and knowledge that has led to my success.”


Do you have a story to share about where life has taken you since Essex? We would love to hear it! Complete a graduate profile now.