Five Essex graduates shortlisted for British Council Alumni Awards

  • Date

    Thu 15 Feb 18

alumni awards

Inspirational Essex graduates from China, Kazakhstan, India, Saudi Arabia and Thailand making a global impact have been shortlisted in this year’s British Council Alumni Awards.


Essex alumni winning recognition include a leading academic, a chief roboticist, a biotechnologist dreaming of being on the first human mission to Mars, an innovator in the Central Asian finance sector and an English school founder who has become a YouTube sensation.

They are among finalists from 125 countries selected from more than 1,700 applications to the awards which celebrate the achievements of international alumni who studied in the UK. 

This is the second year running, the University of Essex has five finalists in the British Council Alumni Awards.

The five Essex graduates to reach regional finals are:

Kanatip Soonthornrak from Thailand is the founder of one of the most renowned English tutorial schools in Thailand and has found huge success launching language tutorial videos on YouTube. Kanatip, a finalist in the Professional Achievement category, completed an MA in Theatre Directing in 2009 at East 15 Acting School at our Loughton Campus.

Aivar Baikenov has been chosen as a finalist in the Professional Achievement category for his significant contribution to the development of the financial sector in Kazakhstan. Aivar graduated in Economics and Politics in 2010 and said he used his studies at Essex to create a positive change within business and finance in his home country.

Turki Althubaiti, a leading academic at Taif University in Saudi Arabia, has been named as a finalist in the Professional Achievement category for his work initiating new academic programmes enhancing access to higher education. He says his time at Essex, where he completed a Masters Degree followed by a PhD in English Literature in 2007, continues to inspire his work.

Anushree Srivastava from India is a Crew Biologist on The Mars Society’s Mars 160 Twin Desert-Arctic Analog Mission which is investigating how humans might survive on the Red Planet. A finalist in the Professional Achievement category, Anushree completed an MSc in Biotechnology in 2016 and is using this experience to contribute to research into the future astrobiological exploration of Mars.

Ruijiao Li, also a finalist in the Professional Achievement category, created the hugely successful AMY Robotics in China. He graduated in 2015 with an MRes Computer Science in Robotics and is now the Chief Roboticist at his company AMY Robotics.

The British Council Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni from UK universities and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education. The winners and finalists are leaders in their fields who have used their experience of studying in the UK to make a positive contribution to their communities, professions and countries.

The Essex finalists will each attend National Award ceremonies between now and April, with finalists being put forward for the Regional Award, who will then go on to compete for the prestigious Global Alumni Award. We will be able to announce our regional-level finalists after all national ceremonies, with the global winner being announced at the end of April.