Class of 2020: Zina Younes

We’re so proud of our class of 2020. They've overcome enormous challenges to graduate, but at the same time they've been determined to make a difference - helping others, grasping opportunities to develop their skills and showing their Essex Spirit in so many different ways. Now we're taking the chance to celebrate their achievements.

  • Date

    Wed 22 Jul 20

Zina Younes, smiling, sitting outside with a red brick house behind

Zina Younes chose to study law in order to help others which is exactly what she was able to do during her placement year, which was split between volunteering in Kenya and working as a paralegal in the UK.

“I believe that we as human beings must be the change we wish to see in the world,” said Zina, who is graduating with an LLB Law with Human Rights.

“Becoming part of the legal system will provide me with a platform to be vocal and make important changes in the lives of others and within my community.”

She chose Essex because of its international reputation as a leader in human rights and it didn’t disappoint: “I knew I was going to benefit greatly from the wisdom and experience of my lecturers who have lived up to my expectations and inspired me continuously through their passion, dedication and accomplishments.”

Zina spent three months of her placement working with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). She was attracted to Kenya because of the VSO’s Kenyan mission to empower and educate women.

“My team and I worked with and trained a group of young marginalised women and equipped them with necessary skills and foundations to start their own business, and campaigned and raised awareness around the community on important topics such as sexual health,” she explained.

The experience proved hugely rewarding: “A stand out moment was when we entered two girls into a business competition. A lot of time and effort went into developing ideas, calculating costs, doing market research and rehearsing their pitching skills. After all our hard work both girls were successful and came out in the top six which was an incredible feeling.”

She spent the rest of her placement working as a paralegal, in the immigration sector, at MYM Solicitors in Slough where she handled a variety of cases ranging from entry clearance visas and EU applications to asylum and appeal cases.

Both experiences have helped her succeed in her final year: “My placements taught me the importance of organisation and keeping a calm and peaceful mindset in order to be able to work under pressure and face any obstacles,” she said.

“Coming back from my placement I recognised a great difference in how I approached my study to how I did in my second year and I know I am able to thrive in any situation as long as I am confident and believe in myself and my abilities.”

Zina is planning to complete the Legal Practice Course at the University of Law.