Your stories: autumn 2023

Where did your Birmingham education take you? Share your updates with us through our website or tag us on social media @birminghamalum using #wearebrumalum.

  • 1974

    Oscar Hernández-Rodríguez (MSc Mathematical Statistics, 1974)

    Oscar stands in the snow at the top of Mera Peak in the Himalayas.

    My time at the University was wonderful, not only because of the academic environment, the friendship of my fellow students and the beautiful Edgbaston campus but also the opportunities I had to travel the UK and listen to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on many occasions. The education received was superb, and it empowered me to become a qualified lecturer at the Department of Statistics, University of Costa Rica, where I worked until my retirement in 2016.

    Since retiring, I have developed my climbing hobby and have reached Everest Base Camp, and the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m), Mount Elbruz (5642m), Mount Aconcagua (6962m), Island Peak (5822 m). Most recently, in May 2023, I submitted Mera Peak in the Himalayas (6470m) aged 75 – anything is possible after retirement!

  • 1981

    Graham Dix (BA Russian Language and Literature, 1981)

    Graham wears a flat cap and glasses, and holds his book 'Our Future Selves' to show the camera.

    Since graduating, I enjoyed a 34-year career in libraries that included returning to the wonderful University of Birmingham for 11 years, as Baykov Librarian in the Centre for Russian and East European Studies (1992-2004). Sadly, I was forced to leave this post due to ill health (ME), but I was able to resume my career when my health improved, retiring in 2016.

    A lasting legacy of my time at the University has been my passion for writing, which was encouraged when I won the staff short story competition in 1993. My first novel, Our Future Selves was published in March 2023, a science fiction book with several chapters set on the Edgbaston campus.

     A children’s book, Dan, the Lollipop Man was then published in August, and I am now working on another science fiction novel.

  • 1991

    Sohail Saqlain (MSc Health Management for Developing Countries, 1991)

    Class of 1991 - a group of around 15 adults pose in rows for a formal photo.

    Class of 1991, MSc Health Management for Developing Countries, taken outside Garth House. (Professor Saqlain is top right)

    I owe my 30-year health career to my beloved University of Birmingham and the training I received. My work has taken me all over the world, from setting up schools for community midwives in Pakistan, a Research Assistant role in Department of Public Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, to a variety of roles within the Government of Pakistan. 

    I currently work at the Government of Punjab’s Population Innovation Fund (PPIF) as Technical Advisor and am proud to be part of the Visiting Faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health. Wherever I have been in the world I have stayed connected to Birmingham – I am now President of Lahore Chapter of the Birmingham Alumni Association of Pakistan (BAAP).

  • 1994

    Julia Thomas (BA Music and Drama, 1994)

    Image split into 3 photos. Top two are from 'Swing Your Pants' performances in the 1990s. The bottom photo is of the band's reunion in 2023. Our nine-piece University soul band Swing Your Pants has reunited - we are working on two gigs for people’s 50ths! Swing Your Pants was formed in 1992 and performed in University of Birmingham events, pubs and clubs between 1992-1995 including supporting Doctor and the Medics in the Deb Hall.

    It’s been amazing to reconnect with these fabulous humans and share stories of our time at the University, as though the 30-year gap has vanished! We communicate regularly through WhatsApp and are even endorsed by the original children’s TV presenters Trev and Simon, who coined the phrase Swing Your Pants!

  • 2008

    Richard Abrahams (BSc Geography and Economics, 2008)

    Formal LinkedIn style photo of Richard looking at the camera.

    My University education provided the perfect balance between a top-class education and the opportunity for memorable extra-curricular and social activities. It opened the doors you'd hope an education would provide, in terms of graduate positions and network, and helped me develop many of the skills which have allowed me to progress in my career.

    Since graduating I spent a year travelling the world solo, then spent two years at a bank before leaving to join PwC, where I worked across a number of departments for almost 12 years - culminating in founding a team supporting fast-growth tech companies to raise funds from venture capital funds. My work supporting entrepreneurs inspired me to start my own business, and I recently founded Sprout with fellow alum Jonathan Blausten (BSc Economics, 2014).

    Sprout is professionalising private markets, connecting allocators (largely single & multi-family offices and institutions) with a vast array of private markets funds and co-investment opportunities, all at the click of a button.

  • 2011

    Gursharan Kaur Bharth (MRes Clinical Psychology, 2011)

    Gusharan smiles at the cameraholding a copy of her children's book. The book has a brightly coloured illustration of three children walking to school.

    Since graduating from Birmingham, I've earned a MSEd in General and Special Education and have been working in the field of early childhood education, from teaching to becoming the Director of Preschool Instruction for an education company called the New York Kids Club & Preschool. 

    I am proud to have recently published my first children’s picture book, ‘Veer’s First Day of School’. In 1997, I emigrated from Punjab, India to Queens, New York. This journey has been the inspiration behind the book as both my younger brother and I created our own space in a new country. 

    The book is designed to start conversations about diversity and inclusion, encouraging children, families and educators to explore similarities and differences bridging the gap between home and school.

  • 2016

    Burak Yazar (MSc International Political Economy and Development, 2016)

    Burak on site at a farm, loading potatoes into a bucket.

    Following an unforgettable year studying in Birmingham, I’m incredibly proud that my social action project, KomsuBostan, was selected as a global finalist in the 2023 Global Study UK Alumni Awards.

    I co-founded KomsuBostan to transform the lives of local producers in Turkey by providing a digital platform, promoting woman-led cooperatives, and eliminating intermediaries. I aim to increase awareness of sustainable approaches for both local producers and end-consumers, through webinars.

    As the only University of Birmingham alumnus among 28 global finalists, it was an honour to be recognised amongst those who are creating positive social change and improving the lives of others.

  • 2022

    Beaulah Chizimba (MSc Healthcare Leadership, 2022)

    Beaulah wears a white blazer and smiles directly to the camera

    Being a part of such a prestigious University and NHS Leadership Academy programme has been the cornerstone of my career, supporting my rise into senior management – the emphasis on inclusivity fortified my belief that I, too, belong in NHS leadership.

    I established Limitless Nurses in 2019 with a focus on equitable opportunities to empower nurses to thrive and redefine the parameters of their professional journey, making a more significant impact in healthcare. The name encapsulates our philosophy perfectly - we see limitless potential in every healthcare professional and work tirelessly to help them realise it. I look forward to further strengthening our leadership role following my acceptance into the prestigious Forbes Coaches Council in August 2023.