Dounia Cherkaoui (recent i-sense PhD student in the McKendry group, now based at FIND) and Max Ramsay (PhD student at LCN) have been awarded the Student Award for "Outstanding Contributions to the Community" as part of the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) Awards 2022. Dounia and Max won this award for their work co-leading and running an online mentoring programme for young Forced Migrants.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, outreach activities at universities became very limited, so Dounia and Max evolved their strategy from helping to run summer schools in pre-pandemic times to developing a new online mentorship scheme. The programme supported 13 students and delivered 94 hours of volunteering support.
The mentoring scheme aimed to help with the linguistic needs of the students and also providing skills that would help them to settle into the relatively new environment. In addition to English reinforcement, the scheme included sessions covering diverse STEM subjects (physics, chemistry, biology) and provided useful coding and IT skills. The mentoring scheme also provided support with CVs and college applications. All organisers and mentors were volunteers.
This work is supporting with the founding of a Charity, Bridging the Future, where Dounia and Max are key team members. The charity will support disadvantaged students in the UK.