The King’s Distinguished Alumni Awards launched in 2017 to recognise distinguished alumni and students who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement, civic leadership, or service to King’s and society.
This year’s winners are a group of outstanding individuals who have excelled in their fields – people who we are proud to count as members of our global communities. And, although we have been unable to celebrate in person, we were delighted to have alumnus Rory Bremner (French & German, 1984) as host for our online ceremony, joined by Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal, where we celebrated both our 2020 and 2021 winners.
Dina Asher-Smith FKC (History, 2017)
Dina is the fastest British woman in recorded history. She holds the British records in the 100 and 200 metres, with 10.83 seconds (2019) and 21.88 seconds (2019), breaking her own British records from 2018. She was the 2016 and 2018 European Champion at 200 metres and the 2018 European Champion at 100 metres. She also won 2018 Commonwealth Games and European Championship gold medals, 2016 Olympic bronze, 2019 World Championship gold in the 200 metres and silver in both the 100 metres and the 4 x 100 metres relay. She also holds the 2021 Olympic bronze in the 4 x 100 metres relay, the 2017 World Championship silver and the 2013 World Championship bronze in the 4 x 100 metres relay. Dina won many of her medals while studying for her History degree, finding support through the King’s Sport Performance Athlete programme, which works with student athletes competing at an elite level.
Sue Searle AKC (Chemistry, 1972)
A supporter of women in STEM, Sue began working in the pharmaceutical industry before going on to work in computer programming. Sue is the Vice Chair of the King’s College London Alumni Association, is a member of the Alumni Advisory Group and has been a leadership mentor at King’s for over five years. She is also creating several online international businesses under her company Paragon House International, encompassing a variety of offerings from e-commerce to restaurants.
Aysha Ingar (MBBS, 2021)
Aysha is the founder and CEO of Muslimah, the first Islamic app for Muslim women. Muslimah allows its users to integrate the many aspects of faith with day-to-day life. The app won the Idea Factory 2019 award, was shortlisted for the Islam Channel Technology Award 2020 and was chosen as semi-finalist in the 2020 Smart Cities Awards by the Mayor of London’s team at London City Hall.
Momin Saqib (Computer Science with Management, 2019)
Momin co-founded One Million Meals – a volunteer organisation set up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide free daily nutritious meals to frontline NHS staff and key workers. To date, One Million Meals has provided over 100,000 meals and beverages in more than 200 locations through 47 hospitals, trusts and food banks, including King’s College Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. Momin was recently recognised as a Commonwealth Youth COVID-19 Hero for his work on this project.
Ghonche Alavi (MA Public Policy, 2015)
Throughout the pandemic, Ghonche and other Sufi volunteers created virtual production lines to make and donate over 1,000 PPE items, including visors that have been tested at hospitals and have been approved by the NHS for distribution to frontline staff on wards. Their donations were distributed to hospitals, care homes, refugees, and homeless communities across London.
Dr Bhavagaya Bakshi (MBBS, 2011)
Bhavagaya is a GP, as well as the co-founder and CEO of C the Signs – an award-winning platform that uses artificial intelligence to identify patients at risk of cancer at the earliest and most survivable stage of the disease. In 2019, C the Signs won the Amazon Web Services Summit Start-up Challenge and was recognised by Forbes as ‘One of the most exciting UK AI start-ups’. The technology is currently being used across the NHS.
Olaidé Olumide (International Politics, 2013)
Olaidé is an adviser for the UK Government, focusing on security challenges facing the world today, and is currently on the Civil Service flagship ‘Future Leaders Scheme’. Olaidé co-chairs the Women’s Empowered Network at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, where she has re-launched and re-branded the network to emphasise gender equality as a collective issue. In addition to this, Olaidé runs Shades of Success, an online network for women of colour that mentors women within the Civil Service.
David Stanley BEM (MMus, 2001)
David is a disability rights campaigner, musical director, teacher, composer and the Founder and CEO of The Music Man Project, a multi-award-winning international music education service specifically for children and adults with learning disabilities. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire in the 2021 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to people with special needs.
Lena Schubmann (International Relations, 2016)
Lena is currently a Programme Officer with the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations in Guatemala, supporting the most vulnerable populations to achieve food security and nutrition. With the WFP team, Lena works on different programmes and projects to improve the food security and nutrition of the population, for example through the promotion of climate-smart agriculture, provision of school meals and development of apps to support local users on how to improve school feeding.
Valerie J Calderbank (Physics, 1966)
Valerie led a distinguished career in computer science, during which she made important contributions to the design of domain-specific programming languages in the 1960s and 1970s, and undertook pioneering research in artificial intelligence on the development of knowledge-based expert systems. She has since gone on to a career in astronomy and was elected a Fellow of The Royal Astronomical Society in 2012 on the recommendation of Sir Patrick Moore.
Dr Aqil Jaigirdar (MBBS, 2019)
Aqil is the founder of the Maternal Aid Association (Maa), a grassroots initiative to revolutionise maternal healthcare globally, providing free antenatal checks, medication and reproductive health workshops to thousands of women in rural Bangladesh. To date, Maa has provided free continuous pregnancy check-ups for over 3,000 pregnant women in rural Bangladesh and educated 700 teenage girls on reproductive health and menstrual hygiene. Maa has now grown to a global team of over 160 members with world-leading experts from the World Health Organization, the Royal College Obstetrics and Gynaecology and University College London.
Tobi Oredein (American Studies, 2011)
Tobi is an award-winning journalist, who focuses on race, feminism, beauty politics and popular culture and is the founder of Black Ballad, a UK media company made by and for black British women. In 2018, Tobi was placed on the Forbes Europe 30 Under 30 list in Media and Marketing and, most recently, Forbes named her as one of their 25 Leading Black British Business People To Follow in 2020. Tobi has used her role to give over 300 black female journalists their first opportunity to be paid for their work.