Two inspirational students awarded Chancellor’s Medal

Two inspirational students have been awarded the Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Sheffield in recognition of their extraordinary contributions in engineering and humanitarian aid.

Saheela Mohammed: Chancellor's Medal 2017

Jiban Karki: Chancellor's Medal 2016

Saheela Mohammed, the recipient of the 2017 Chancellor’s Medal, was honoured with the award during her graduation ceremony last month (Tuesday 18 July 2017) in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the Faculty of Engineering, the University and the wider community of Sheffield.

As a Student Ambassador for the Department of Bioengineering, Saheela has worked tirelessly to address the gender imbalance of engineering, raising the profile of the subject as a career choice for women and inspiring the next generation of female engineers.

 Professor Stephen Matcher, Bioengineering Course Director at the University of Sheffield, said:

“During her time at Sheffield, Saheela has been an energetic champion for reaching out to others. She has sought to draw interested young people into STEM through her work on outreach programmes and has enthusiastically joined the battle to get more women involved in all branches of engineering.”

During her time as a student in Sheffield, Saheela led a collaboration with the student societies’ Women in Engineering and Engineers without Borders to deliver 130 STEM outreach workshops to Year 8 students.

She also played an important role in promoting the children’s book, 'Suzie and Ricky – The Crash Landing', created by the Women in Engineering student society at the University of Sheffield. The book introduces children and their families to engineering and was distributed free of charge to hundreds of primary school children throughout South Yorkshire and the UK. The book was also the inspiration of the 'Engineering Is…' campaign that launched in November 2016 at the Houses of Parliament.


"To be the recipient of the prestigious Chancellor's Medal is a great honour and surprise,” said Saheela.

“Education is so important in making a positive impact and I have enjoyed being able to make my contribution through the STEM outreach initiatives offered at the University of Sheffield and hope to continue this in the future.

“Sheffield will always be a special place for me as I have met the most determined people during my time here, who want each other to succeed.

“Having worked extensively with the University’s Women in Engineering team, I am incredibly thankful for their support and guidance in providing workshops and networking opportunities to children and university students. There is a gender gap in engineering and I am proud to have played a part in addressing it."

On top of this, Saheela has also participated in several open days, primary and secondary school outreach programmes, mentoring schemes and STEM visits as an inspirational role model and advocate for women in engineering.

PhD student Jiban Karki also received the 2016 Chancellor’s Medal at his graduation ceremony (17 July 2017), after finishing his PhD and graduating this year.

Jiban, who was preparing his PhD thesis when the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, immediately took leave of absence from his studies and spent several months leading and managing delivery of aid through PHASE Nepal (Practical Help Achieving Self-Empowerment), a non-governmental organisation he helped establish in 2006.

Despite his own personal loss and devastation, Jiban was instrumental in raising a staggering £14,642 through the ‘University of Sheffield Friends of Nepal’ appeal, massively exceeding their initial target of £5,000.

Jiban ensured shelter, food and health aid to over 15,000 families, as well as transport between the more remote villages and hospitals in the larger cities.

The University has close ties with Nepal, with many Nepalese staff and students having returned to Sheffield just weeks before the earthquake.

“Receiving the Chancellor’s Medal for my work with PHASE is one of the greatest recognitions of its work and is also one of the happiest moments of my life,” said Jiban.

“It is recognition of the hard work of all the supporters at the University of Sheffield, the Trustees of PHASE Worldwide, members of PHASE Nepal, staff, donors and the volunteers who all came together to help the people of Nepal during a really difficult time.”

Since the earthquake, which resulted in a colossal 9,000 deaths, 22,000 injuries and the destruction of 800,000 buildings, Jiban has continued in his role as Executive Director of PHASE Nepal, planning longer-term support schemes in order to help local people rebuild their lives.

Jiban Karki

“I would like to thank the Chancellor and all those who recommended me for this medal, as well as my colleagues in PHASE and all the donors and volunteers who have continuously supported PHASE and enabled our work to be recognized by this prestigious University,” said Jiban.

“This is our collective achievement - I just happened to be here at the right time doing my PhD to receive this medal on behalf of all of us.”

Previous winners of the award include Olympic gold medallist and University of Sheffield Psychology alumna Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.

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