I'm proud to have achieved my goal of becoming a freelance journalist. I'm privileged to be able to write articles that are of interest to me

Sociological Studies graduate Salma Haidrani
Salma Haidrani
BA Sociology
Salma has gone on to achieve great success as a freelance journalist since graduating with a degree in Sociology. Here, she shares her story with us.
Sociological Studies graduate Salma Haidrani

Why did you decide to study at the University of Sheffield?

When it came to shortlisting the hundreds of universities clamouring for my attention, the University of Sheffield emerged as the clear winner – and I can’t say I’ve regretted my decision since. The department’s course instantly appealed to me – I was excited about being taught in one of the world’s leading universities by award-winning academics. The University of Sheffield also boasts the best Students’ Union in the country. With over 250 societies and activities to try, I was excited to get stuck in! If I could do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat!

What is your fondest memory from your time in Sheffield?

There are so many fantastic memories it’s hard to pick one! In my final year, I completed my Sheffield Graduate Award and was awarded ‘Best Portfolio’ at the prize-giving ceremony. Having my efforts recognised for the hard work I’d put into my portfolio and being awarded £500 by the Vice-Chancellor was fantastic.

Winning ‘Best Online Blog’ at the Asian Media Awards in November 2013 was another highlight – the Department of Sociological Studies and the university community were so supportive. I also made life-long friends, who I still see often, even though we live in completely different parts of the UK and the world. I’ve got nothing but fantastic memories of my time at Sheffield!

What has been the best or most useful thing about the course you studied in the Department of Sociological Studies?

It was such a privilege to study everything from multiculturalism, gender, sexuality, nationalism, medicine, masculinity and migration for three years. These are all topics that are still personal interests of mine and that I touch on throughout my journalism.

My articles have appeared in a number of national leading publications in the UK and the Middle East including British VOGUE, GQ, ELLE, VICE, i-D, Dazed, HUNGER, Cosmopolitan UK, BBC, AnOther, HUCK and Refiinery29 etc. They include topics such as whether the term ‘mixed race’ has expired in Britain, obscure sexual subcultures across the UK and the U.S. to my 6-page undercover investigation on whether beauty pageants still have a place in contemporary British society. I’ve no doubt that my degree has influenced the topics that I’ve chosen to cover in my career. My degree comes in useful almost every single day, which isn’t something that everyone can say about theirs! You can more of my multi-award-winning writing here and here.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I’m proud to have achieved my goal of becoming a (multi-award-winning!) journalist. As a freelance journalist, I’m privileged to be able to write articles that are of interest to me and that I believe are rarely covered in the mainstream media. I write across marginalised communities, contemporary faith, issues impacting women, social issues and British identity, with a particular focus on amplifying invisible voices. I’ve since won a number of awards including Young Journalist of the Year’ at the GG2 Leadership Awards and ‘Best Feature’ at the End Violence Against Women Awards. My work has led to appearances on national TV, radio and podcasts, including BBC Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, BBC Asian Network, Sky News, BBC Four and The Financial Times’ Life & Arts podcast ‘Culture Call’. I’ve also been very honoured to chair and speak at panels in both the UK and internationally, including University of Oxford, University of Salford, the International Journalism Festival in Italy, Birmingham Literature Festival, Kenilworth Arts Festival and Foyles Charing Cross Road.

More recently, I’m also proud to have become a Contributing Author of several Non-Fiction books. These include the multi-award-nominated, Amazon #1 and The Guardian Bookshop best-selling anthology ‘It’s Not About the Burqa’, published by Picador in 2019. I’m also a Contributing Author of ‘THE ISLAM BOOK’, published by Penguin Random House’s DK Books in July 2020. Ultimately, I hope that I will continue producing agenda-setting journalism.

What piece of advice would you offer new students to the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield?

Joining societies might seem daunting but there’s an incredible amount of activities and societies at your fingertips at the Students’ Union so try to step out of your comfort zone! I tried everything from hitch-hiking in the UK with BUMMIT to having my own show on Forge Radio. I stumbled on journalism after writing features for Forge Press and becoming a Features Editor on Liberty Belle Magazine. I really enjoyed the experience and toyed with the idea of a career in this field. If I hadn’t joined Forge Press or Liberty Belle Magazine, there’s a chance I wouldn’t have been a journalist today.

Forge Press
Forge Press

Since leaving Sheffield, I’ve won a number of awards for my writing, including ‘Young Journalist of the Year’ at the GG2 Leadership Awards in October 2017 and ‘Best Feature’ at the End Violence Against Women Media Awards in November 2016. I’ve also been shortlisted for several more, including ‘Freelancer of the Year’ at the MJA Awards in June 2017.

Your dream career is within your reach and making the most of the opportunities available at the University of Sheffield can help you get there – I hope I’m living proof of that!

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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