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Worldwide Perspective on Education and Women from University of London Alumni

As part of the University of London’s 2018 Leading Women campaign celebrations, University of London alumni submitted videos in which they spoke about the importance of education in their lives.

Written by Alison McCarty |

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Hear the importance of education in the lives of some of our graduates.

As part of the University of London’s 2018 Leading Women campaign celebrations, University of London alumni submitted videos in which they spoke about the importance of education in their lives.

The video was played live at the 2018 London Graduation Ceremony at the Barbican Centre on Tuesday 6 March 2018. While it is clear that there is much to celebrate, our alumni also acknowledged that there is further progress to be made. The University of London is immensely proud of its graduates, and we hope that the alumni featured here will lead future advancements in women’s higher education.

This film was produced for the 2018 University of London Graduation Ceremony, which also celebrated the Leading Women campaign. The campaign marks the 150th anniversary of special examinations for women, which ten years later, in 1878, led to the opening up of full degrees for women. In both instances, the University of London was the first to do so. The introduction of special examinations for women in 1868 marked the first time in the UK that women had gained access to university level education, and proved to be an immensely significant moment for the University, for women and for society as a whole.

One of the students who submitted footage is Sagar Banjade from Nepal, who attained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

Sagar grew up in a remote village, and his mother raised him and his brother without a husband or family assistance. His mother single-handedly supported her children during her time in nursing school, and encouraged Sagar to seek education himself. Her goal in life was to get out of the village and send Sagar and his brother to a good college. Unbeknown to his mother, Sagar took a different life path, and dropped out of high school to pursue dancing in Bollywood. He later moved to Dubai, where he worked as a tea boy at a construction company.

Sagar Banjade teaching
"This degree is more to me than just a qualification." - Sagar Banjade

He explained: ‘When I thought my career was limited to serving English breakfast to my colleagues, another woman showed up and guided me on a new path. Helen, the Learning Development Manager, gave me the confidence to apply for a university degree, despite a language barrier. This degree is more to me than just a qualification, because I finally found inner peace. I was able to look into my mum’s eyes and tell her, ‘Mum, I lied to you for ten years, and I never completed high school. But you know what, I am now doing my undergraduate programme with a world-renowned university, the University of London’.

Sagar added:

There are many women who have encouraged, supported and influenced my life. Without them, I could not have completed this degree, and I wouldn’t be where I am in my career, as a Senior Manager at a global construction company.

Radika Rajkumar
"My life changed from home and family to courthouse and custody." - Radika Rajkumar

The video also features the story of Radika Rajkumar, a domestic violence survivor living in Canada, who graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree.

Radika said:

I’m one of the many immigrants who moved to Canada with the hope of a better life. However, after being subjected to domestic violence, my life changed from home and family to courthouse and custody. Watching many women often struggling to understand the complexity of the legal system, while simultaneously having to cope with the aftermath of their separation or physical abuse, I developed a strong interest in the field of family law.

Now that she has earned her law degree, Radika hopes to advocate for women suffering from domestic violence.

She added: ‘To me personally, attaining this law degree is not just a prefix to my name, but also the opportunity to extend my legal knowledge to help women like me, who have been subjected to domestic violence. My aspiration is to help educate such women of their fundamental legal rights, and I propose to achieve this by meeting them personally at community shelters established for abused women, the very shelters where I regained my strength and rebuilt my life.’

Unsurprisingly, the video was well received at the 2018 London Graduation Ceremony, with many graduands saying the stories of their peers were inspirational beyond measure. In total, 8 graduands share their story in the video: Chido Mauwa (Canada), Jana Kazan (Lebanon), Laureen Pasquier (Malaysia), Sonia Kamaal (UAE), Gifty Affenyi-Dadzie (Ghana), Carolyn Jane Colbert (Greece), Sagar Banjade (Nepal) and Radika Rajkumar (Canada).

The University of London’s Leading Women campaign continues throughout 2018. Future programming includes a worldwide conversation on women’s higher education and equality in the workplace. Find out more information about forthcoming University of London events.