Showcasing STUDENT VOICE – International Women’s Day 2024

by | Mar 12, 2024 | All posts, Health Sciences | 0 comments

Here you can watch the video of digital projections showcasing STUDENT VOICE


Hi, I’m Wan-Chuen, currently a visiting PhD student in the Division of Pharmacy at the University of Manchester.

I’m from Taiwan and have a background as a PhD candidate at the Graduate Institute of Oral Biology in National Taiwan University as well as being a dentist.

I have always been passionate about research. So, after completing my specialist training as an Endodontic specialist, I continued my studies through masters, and doctoral programs.

During this time, I also got married and had 3 children. All, while continuing my dental clinic work and research at the same time.

I’ve always dreamed of studying abroad to meet new people, experience different cultures and learn more.

Therefore, I applied for the postgraduate student studying abroad program sponsored by the National Science Council of Taiwan and brought my entire family, including my 3 young children to Manchester to embark on this exciting journey at the University of Manchester.

I’m incredibly proud of myself for maintaining my passion for research and learning and for continuously striving to achieve my dream of studying abroad despite facing many challenges along the way.

Oh, I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage more people, perhaps those who balance multiple roles in life as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a doctor, a researcher or a student, and have dreams.

Dream what you want to dream true, go where you want to go and be what you want to be. Don’t give up and always remember that nothing is impossible!

Believe in yourself and what you can achieve! Thank you.

  Dalil Saud Alshammari

During my undergraduate studies, I attended conferences on dental education to present my research. It was during these conferences that I discovered my interest in the field of medical education. However, I did not realize the full extent of my passion for this field until I applied for my PhD at the University of Manchester. Initially, I had applied for a PhD in a clinical dentistry, but when I discovered a medical education program in the university webpage, I withdrew my previous application and reapplied for an integrated PhD. I couldn’t ignore my passion for medical education, and I knew that this was the path I wanted to take. Balancing another qualification alongside my PhD was no mean feat, especially given that I am also a part-time teaching assistant. However, my passion for medical education kept me going, and I worked tirelessly to manage it all. At times, I felt overwhelmed, but I reminded myself that the tiredness would fade away, and my achievements would remain. In July of last year, I attended my graduation, and it was an unforgettable day. I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved, and I am now working as a teaching fellow in the same program. I am grateful that I followed my passion, and it has led me to where I am today. (The attached photo was taken at my graduation ceremony.)

 H. Alsalman

I am H. Alsalman, currently in my second year as an international PhD student at the University of Manchester. My academic journey began as a teaching assistant in my home country, where I seized the opportunity to continue my studies, sponsored by my workplace.

During my master’s studies back in my country, I faced mental health challenges stemming from neglecting my own well-being. Despite this, I was fortunate to return to academia and successfully complete my master’s, even publishing an article based on my work. However, this triumph was accompanied by hesitation to pursue further studies for fear of experiencing another relapse under the pressure of academic demands.

My application to the University of Manchester in September 2018 marked a new chapter, but challenges emerged with my workplace sponsor’s scholarship system, taking two years to resolve. Plans to fly to Manchester in March 2020 were disrupted by COVID precautions, resulting in a deferral letter from the University of Manchester. It was not until March 2022 that I finally arrived in Manchester, accompanied by my family, including my husband and nine-month-old son

Adapting to life in a Western country as an adult presented its own set of challenges. In the midst of adjusting, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child in the first month in Manchester. After my husband’s brief stay, he returned to our original country, leaving me to navigate the first year of my PhD while simultaneously caring for my son and managing a pregnancy. Engaging in university life, I participated in a podcast by the University of Manchester on arriving in the city and served as a division representative for two years. Successfully passing my transfer report viva marked a significant milestone in my academic journey.

The triumphs, however, were followed by struggles as post-partum depression set in. Faced with the difficulty of managing my mental health and academic commitments, I had to make the tough decision to send my kids back to my home country. Now, living alone, I grapple with the challenges of missing my children, battling depression, and working towards completing my PhD. Despite the hardships, I hold onto the belief that these tough times will be remembered with glory in the future, and I remain hopeful in overcoming the obstacles that lie ahead (attached is an image capturing the essence of my favourite rose, a bloom I believe encapsulates my identity).

Happy International Women’s Day!

 Jasmine Greenleaf

To me, being a woman is a privilege. It’s an honour .An immediate badge of strength and resilience. One immediate and unique component of womanhood are periods, each different for each woman. Some periods are short or long, some painful or painless, some heavy or light, some don’t come for months on end, or some last months on end. Overall, a period is a unique factor in everyone’s womanhood journey. We, as women, often suffer from these at least once a month or always. They are a hindrance to our everyday lives, yet we continue with our daily lives. I am a survivor of extreme PCOS, having had periods of time where I bled for months on end or not at all. Although I am in immense pain and discomfort, at times I should feel the weakest. I feel the strongest I have ever been because, to me, being a woman means being strong, resilient, and powerful. If I can be happy and continue with my day with such things going on, I can do anything.

Laiba Waseem

“My Story” is not just a phrase; it’s a declaration an ownership over one’s narrative and an assertion of control. Somebody once described me as “the flower that grew without water” From that moment onward, I embraced “My Story” as more than just words—it became a symbol of empowerment and agency. For me, it signifies the acknowledgment that my story is uniquely mine, a story to be shared, to inspire, and to create change. Every year on International Women’s Day, I make it a point to express gratitude, acknowledge, and celebrate the remarkable women who have been instrumental in shaping and empowering me. It is through their guidance, support, and inspiration that I stand today as the brave women I am. To start, I’ve survived through many trials—some I wish never happened, while others have shaped who I am today. As a survivor of CSA and living with complex PTSD, I’ve faced significant stigma, especially as a young woman of colour in my community. This stigma, often from those closest to me, silenced my struggles, leaving me to contend not only with my trauma but also with everyone else’s anger. Instead of fighting that anger with anger I decided to do something with my story. Turn pain into power. I went on radio and shared my story in honour of sexual abuse awareness month and shared my story but most importantly shared how I use my experiences to now make a difference, I work with mental health services and use my experiences to help improve the service. I also deliver trauma informed training to staff and helped services create early intervention programs. I have also been on the news sharing my mental health journey and often have been guest speaker talking about my story. I believe in the power of the sharing YOUR story in YOUR words and changing the narrative from “their story” to “My story”.

Every obstacle I face has been a catalyst to my bravery, and alongside all my obstacles I have met with powerful women who encourage me to keep fighting. It is why on IWD I take time to reflect and thank. Being brave in the midst of fighting the obstacle’s meant that I became more passionate to achieve my goals so I can be the example for young women who experience trauma that life does not end there. You can keep fighting, keep getting help to help you heal and be the change you want to see. I am still a scar in my healing process but now because of all the brave women I met and meet I can finally show myself the same compassion they show me.

Mia McFadyen

Women are frequently criticised for not upholding the beauty standard, particularly regarding the ‘perfect figure’. We are told we are eating too much, not enough, too tall, too small, too skinny, too fat. It is not uncommon for women to have complicated relationships with food because of such criticism, and this contributed to my personal struggle with being diagnosed as a Coeliac when I was aged just seventeen. Coeliac disease is a medical condition, most diagnosed in women, that requires a strict, and major diet change eliminating gluten. Having to enforce a restrictive diet as a teenage girl was extremely upsetting for me, but over the past 2 years I learned to prioritise my health, love my body and how to navigate my condition when baking, cooking, and eating out. There is a lot of ignorance surrounding Coeliac disease, but I have learned to be resilient and patient, and compared to the distressed seventeen-year-old I once was, I now enjoy educating people about my condition, and I have built a stronger relationship with food, with the support of understanding friends and family members. Although Coeliac is a lifelong condition, I am grateful to have built internal strength to manage its daily challenges. Diet culture and food restriction in the media can be toxic, so whether it is Coeliac disease or other medical/ non-medical diets, women can take the power back, and support each other in navigating food in a way that prioritises health, and enjoy food, not fear it.

 Najla Salama

I’m Najla ….. an international student from Libya

I don’t usually talk about myself much, but I am a cheerful person who finds joy in connecting with people and embracing life.

Getting accepted into the doctoral program and securing a student visa for the UK wasn’t a walk in the park. Studying abroad and living independently posed a formidable obstacle in the pursuit of my dreams. This decision stood in direct contrast to my country cultural beliefs, and unfortunately, it lacked the support from most of my family members.

Coming from a politically unstable country brought its own set of challenges. Since 2011, all embassies in Libya shut down, leading me to apply for a visa from neighbouring country, Tunisia. Unfortunately, just as I was preparing to leave, war reared its ugly head in our region. Bombardments and gunfire were a constant threat, and initially, I hesitated to travel, wanting to stay close to my family. However, my aunts insisted that the war would eventually end, but the educational opportunity might not possible again. So, with determination, I decided to face the challenges head-on and embark on this uncertain journey.

The start of my academic journey was fraught with obstacles, yet I managed to overcome the hurdles of the first year. Then, the unforeseen challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Financial dues were consistently delayed for three to five months and with the added impact of COVID-19 my country was no longer willing to pay my academic fees, presenting a new challenge of living on my personal account without any income in a foreign country. Despite these challenges, my determination to earn my doctoral degree remains unwavering.

Throughout this period, I connected with people from diverse backgrounds, a task that, in itself, felt like an accomplishment. As an Arab woman gaining respect took time and effort, especially in an environment that needed to be supportive to avoid mental stress. I was successful in making loads of friends who were a true support to me during my journey.

One of my proudest achievements was assisting in teaching alongside my professors. Every student I helped expressed gratitude, calling me the best assistant, proving that language is not the obstacle; the real challenge lies in trying and persisting in the attempt. One of my most recent triumphs was submitting my doctoral research after a year of exhaustion, feelings of failure, and frustration. Amidst mental and physical breakdowns, I continuously motivated myself to persevere.

Each day, I persistently show up to pursue my future, serving as a testament to my capacity to acknowledge my achievements, no matter how challenging, and persist despite their difficulty.

Rachel Fernandez

A narrative that reflects my story is something my aunt told me when I first moved to the UK back in 2010. Moving to a new country and trying to fit into a new culture while remaining strong within my roots was a struggle. So, one day I got really upset and went to my aunt. She turned around and said something that I still live by 14 years later. She said “Stop focusing on people. Focus on yourself, your studies, your career, and the people who are meant to be in your life will come to you”.

I am so grateful for my aunt because what she told me back then, encouraged me to be the person I am today. I am privileged to say that the women in my family and friendship groups are some of the strongest, most independent people I know!

Happy International Women’s Day! 😊

   Sharon Ayayo

If someone had told me 5 years ago that today I’d be a fully funded PhD student at the University of Manchester, I would have laughed and said, how dare you speak the impossible! A glimpse of my life story: I’m from Kisumu-Kenya. I come from a humble background and that always motivated me to work hard and help my family in the future. My dad lost his job when I was 7 years old and then we had to depend on my mom’s small street food business to make ends meet. My mom passed away when I was 15 and this was a huge blow to my family! Things were tough especially when my aunt came to live with us only to rub salt into the wound (story for another day). Despite all these challenges, I was always focussed in school and determined to excel, I always used them as a motivation rather than an excuse.

The turning point in my life was when I was awarded a full scholarship for MSc Medical Statistics course at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine after my Bachelor’s. This was the biggest achievement in my life since it was very competitive and only awarded to 3 candidates across the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa! It was challenging when I moved to the UK for the first time, leaving my family 6604 km away! Language, weather, food and loneliness. But all these were just a tip of an iceberg compared to the life I was coming from. I completed my Master’s degree and immediately got a job as a statistician at Cardiff University where I worked for two years before applying for a PhD. I’m now almost finishing my first year and already have a finalised manuscript ready for submission. I have been mentoring students from my former school and university in Kenya, some have secured scholarships in the UK like me. I support my family back at home and educate my younger ones. What I learnt from all this is that, no situation is permanent when you work hard towards a goal. Remember, you can never dream too big!

Lixin Liu

Hi, my name is Lixin, I’m an international student from China, and I’m in my second year studying Pharmacy. In my time here in Manchester, I have experienced many things that I did not expect, but the good news is that I have come through them well and now find myself more comfortable studying abroad.

With the development of The Times, women’s rights and interests are also rising, and women’s roles in various fields have also come to the fore. More women are moving into important jobs and making important decisions. Women, too, can play important roles in leading the world. I’m proud to be a woman. As a woman, I can dress up nicely, I can wear my hair up and sweat at the gym, I can cook a lot of delicious food, and I can talk and laugh with strangers in social situations.

I am proud of how quickly I can adapt to life in a completely new environment. I can speak a second language and apply it proficiently in my life, even taking a course in it. I use this language to communicate with people from different countries. I use English as a medium to understand and embrace different cultures, different people and different ways of getting along. I can live in this city, this school like a fish in water.

I am proud that, as a woman, I have good social relationships. My roommates and I can party together and play games together. I can also discuss academic problems with my classmates and find out the most reasonable answers. There’s a saying in China “travel 10,000 miles while reading 10,000 books”. Beside finishing my studies, I also travel to many places with my friends to explore the world.

I am proud that, as a woman, I have always looked at the things around me with an open and inclusive eye. I can patiently listen to the preaching of Christian missionaries and accept their invitation to attend their activities. I am also willing to walk into Buddhist temples and listen to the Buddhist monks. I can listen to a friend from England, Europe, America, etc., talk about his hometown and tell me about their culture. I would also like to tell them how beautiful my hometown is and how my country has raised students like me.

I am proud of being a woman, I am proud of being independent, I am proud of being gentle and patient, I am proud of being positive and optimistic, I am proud of my mind and wisdom.

Finally, I hope every woman in the world can be proud of themselves, embrace the beauty of this world, and have a bright future.


My name is Priscilla. And I’m a master’s student studying clinical pharmacy at Manchester University. As a proud Chinese speaking student I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my story and represent the diverse voices of women within our university community.

It was during my high school years that I had the incredible opportunity to join an expedition called World Challenge, embarking on a trekking journey that would forever shape my life. It aimed to develop leadership skills through a trekking expedition in the Himalayas of India.

For an entire month, I was surrounded by a group of enthusiastic and determined students, all eager to challenge themselves and explore the unknown. Our adventure began with a 14-day trekking expedition, navigating the rugged terrain of the Himalayas, reaching an altitude of over 5,000 meters.

This journey was not for the faint of heart. We faced extreme weather conditions, tough paths, and moments where we doubted ourselves.

But you know what? We pushed through. We conquered our fears, pushed beyond our limits, overcame challenges, and grew stronger together. We formed friendships that will last a lifetime. That expedition taught me something priceless: that there’s nothing we can’t handle if we face it with courage and determination.

I still believe in myself; I am confident in my ability to achieve great things even in the face of adversity. It was a turning point in my life that empowered me to embrace new challenges and seize opportunities with confidence.

I’m sharing this accomplishment not to brag but to inspire, as each of us possesses the potential to overcome obstacles and achieve greatness.

It is through experiences like this that we discover our true capabilities and realize that our dreams are within reach.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and honour the inspiring stories of women, let us remember that our achievements, no matter how big or small, deserve recognition and celebration. Let us continue to push boundaries, break stereotypes, and create a world where every woman can thrive.

Together we can create an environment that empowers every individual regardless of the gender or background. Our voice matter, our story matters and we have the power to make a difference.

Happy  International Women’s Day!

F. Alshaikhmubarak

Most people talk about their achievements, but only a few talks about their failures. It is certainly easier to talk about achievements, but we need to hear about failures too. We need to know that it’s okay to fail, and that success usually comes after many unsuccessful attempts. So, inspired by those who are willing to share their failures, I want to talk about my failures today. Because failures are achievements when we have the courage to try; they can be stepping stones to success. Indeed, those who try more, fail more, but we usually only hear about their success. So, my message today is: be proud of your failures; having the courage to try is an achievement in itself.

Reflecting on my failures, I recall my first year in clinical pharmacy during my undergraduate studies. It was a very challenging year for me in many aspects. As a result, I received the lowest grades I ever had in my life, which was a great shock to both me and my family. I worked tirelessly to raise my grades since then, but despite my success in that, my first year’s results still impacted my overall GPA.

Following my graduation, I applied for the pharmacy residency program in my country, Saudi Arabia. However, my GPA, which was impacted by my first-year struggles, influenced my overall score, leading to an unsuccessful application. So, my first-year failure led to the residency application failure, redirecting my path and bringing me to where I am today. My second option was to apply for a teaching position at a university, but they did not open any positions that year. So, I found myself pursuing a master’s degree, a decision that was not easy. It was actually a family decision and included many sacrifices from my family who, throughout my master’s degree and PhD so far, never left me alone for a single day. My father, my mother, my brothers, and sisters, and even my sister-in-law, they all alternated to keep me company. I can never thank them enough. Interestingly, all my failures appeared to be a perfect plan by God to bring me here today.

Upon starting my PhD journey at the University of Manchester, I faced many challenges. I had to work remotely due to COVID for about 6 months before coming to Manchester to encounter countless tasks and struggles to settle in. To add to that, I struggled to understand people. As I mainly learned English from books, I failed to understand British accents. I started listening to audiobooks to improve my listening skills on the way to and from the university. I still fail to understand sometimes, but now I managed to chair meetings and understand most, if not all, of the conversation.

Then came the continuation report submission and first-year viva. I had to work non-stop day and night, barely managing a few hours of sleep, and sometimes by 10 pm, I’d realise I hadn’t had anything to eat. Did that help? Not very much, because I ended up falling ill unable to work for several days. So, I learned to never neglect my health. Then I almost failed my first-year viva. My examiner told me the only reason I don’t have to resubmit is that they don’t want to read my report again. Everyone was happy that I passed, except me. It took me a while to regain my confidence; it wasn’t easy, and it never is. It’s always very easy to lose our confidence, but very difficult to regain it.

My most recent failure was a rejection of a manuscript submission. Again, this failure was an opportunity to learn, and I know there will be many more failures to come in different ways. However, at some point, we need to realise that these aren’t really failures.

I learned this from my role model, Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). He said, “Allah will be pleased with those who try to do their work in a perfect way.” So, our aim should always be to put efforts to do the best we can do and leave the rest to God. If it’s meant to happen, it will, if it’s not meant to happen, it will not. Efforts are part of the equation; they’re not everything. In Islam, we believe that God does not look at the results; he only looks at our intentions and efforts. I’m learning to embrace this concept, although it’s easier said than done. I’m trying to see the success in my hard work rather than the outcome. No one will ever know how hard we work; no one will ever feel how hard it was, except God, of course, so we need to realise that our hard work is an achievement in itself, even if we fail. And I hope that all my fellow students and researchers get to see the beauty of appreciating our efforts regardless of the outcome.


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