Asylum Seeker Turned Graduate Will Help Others Into Education

Kedleston Road campus 504x257 Asylum Seeker Turned Graduate Will Help Others Into Education

Date posted: 19 January 2012

An Iraqi Kurd refugee who fled to the UK as a teenager, despite speaking no English, is set to use his University of Derby Masters degree to help others in his country gain an education.

Awara Rasoul, now 32, will graduate with a Masters degree (MSc) in Marketing and Advertising today (Thursday January 19), as part of the University's two days of Awards Ceremonies at Derby Assembly Rooms in the city centre. Supporting him along the way has been partner Amanda, who he met after coming to the UK, and five-year-old daughter Parysa.

His graduation marks the end of four years' full time study at the University; first gaining an HND in Business and Management, then adding a 'top up' year to make this an Honours degree before finally obtaining his Masters degree. All of this was done while also working full time, first for Derbyshire companies and then by setting up his own car valeting firm.

Following his university experience Awara now plans to set up a new venture - an educational business to act as a liaison between UK institutions and the government in his native Kurdistan - to bring fellow Kurds over here for vocational training, before returning to help improve their country.

He was born in Iran, his family having moved there due to his politician father's opposition to Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein's regime. They moved back to Kurdistan when Awara was 13-years-old, where he lived through the First Gulf War and subsequent Kurdish uprisings.

Awara said: "I came to the UK in 2001 aged 19 as an asylum seeker and was granted refugee status. I didn't speak English and knew very few Kurdish people here, as the rest of my family remained in Kurdistan."

After taking English lessons in Wolverhampton he then moved to Manchester for work, before settling in Derby where he was employed on the assembly lines at Toyota's Burnaston factory for two years.

He added: "I then worked for an auto-parts company called Magna as a Supervisor. The management there encouraged me to do a higher education course and I ended up doing a two-year HND in Business and Management at the University of Derby.

"I did the course on a full-time basis but in the evenings, so I could continue to work full-time. The company were very good about letting me alter my shift patterns, so I would often finish at the University at 9pm and then go on to do a night shift.

"After I'd done the HND I was determined to do a 'top up' year to get an Honours degree, then wanted to do a Masters degree."

Whilst studying Awara has also been jointly running a company, the Spotless Hand Car Wash and Valeting Centre, opposite Derby Westfield shopping centre, with business partner Amjed Ghani.

But he has plans to expand into other enterprises, using the knowledge gained through his studies at the University of Derby.

Awara said: "I'm going to be jointly setting up a new company called Hewa House of Overseas Education, helping workers funded through a Kurdish government programme to get onto higher education courses in the UK. 'Hewa' in Kurdish means 'hope' and we hope we can help people get the training they need to then go back and help my country develop."

Dr Alison Lawson, University Programme Leader for Postgraduate Programmes in Marketing, added: "Awara worked hard for his Masters degree and truly deserves success. His academic ability and excellent general business knowledge were matched by his entrepreneurial spirit, and his keen desire to spread the word about the value of education.

"I'm delighted that the University of Derby has been able to help Awara achieve great things and I'm sure his future will be bright."

For more information about the University of Derby's business courses see website

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