Fatma Said Ibrahim

PhD student in the Yunus Centre for Business and Health
MSc Social Business and Microfinance 2015

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Fatma with GCU Principal Professor Pamela Gillies and Chancellor Emeritus Professor Muhammad Yunus

Fatma originally graduated with a degree in Archaeology from the University of Cairo. She worked in the tourism sector after graduation, but always knew that social justice and women’s empowerment was her true passion. She was awarded a scholarship to study at GCU in Glasgow, and began her Masters in 2014. Her current PhD project looks at the impact of microcredit on the empowerment of low income immigrant and refugee women in the UK.   

In 2015, she was awarded the prestigious Magnusson Award, allowing her to travel back to Egypt to work with a support group, Girls Revolution, which began right after the Egyptian Revolution. She has since started an online forum herself which answers the questions women and girls in Egyptian society may have about themselves, their rights and ambitions. We caught up with her to find out more. 

How has your degree helped you? 

“I got both sides [microfinance and business] from the MSc and I think it was the kick-starter for my career and to do the things that I love and I’m passionate about.” 

Are you glad you came to GCU and why? 

“I love GCU. I feel like GCU is my home because I’ve never been out of my country. When I came here, this was the very first home I had, in the GCU student accommodation, and I’ve just been here since then. It’s crazy how time passes so fast. I love how I’m supported here. I always feel supported and everybody is so great. Everyone in the office in the Yunus Centre is so supportive and GCU Foundation - the people there are just amazing and the principal’s office - everyone is just amazing.”  

What is your favourite memory from GCU? 

“My favourite memory is when I ran for full time officer and I was representing women and minorities. The campaign was so cool. I’ve never done this before. I felt so empowered. I felt so powerful and I had a lot of support from Caledonian Women, the GCU society. It was so fun although I didn’t win, but I loved it.” 

Can you tell us about your current role? 

“I haven’t been involved with education at such a high level before and I’ve learnt to read and write in a different language, I learnt about research methods and how to conduct research and so on. This has helped me as a research assistant, but also it did help me in the other side which I’m really passionate about which is social change. So I learnt that if you want to do something for society you need to look at what is missing and what people need and you create something to address their needs.”  

What is your proudest achievement? 

“I’m quite proud of how far I’ve come so far. I would say being in a PhD is something I’m really proud of because it’s sort of the last step. I’m also proud of how far I’ve come in speaking a different language. When I first came here to GCU I wasn’t speaking that well in English. Attending lectures and reading newspapers feels so different because I know all the words so I’m grateful and I’m proud of that.” 

What are your future plans? 

“I do love working in academia and I really love to do the sort of position that I do now. That’s why I really appreciate the Yunus Centre and I love being part of their team. They do core research that really matters, it helps people and so on. So I’d love to stay in academia, but I wouldn’t give up on the thing I care about. I’m passionate about helping women in disadvantaged situations and I’m really happy about my movement.” 

Do you have any advice? 

“I would say that people will miss a lot if they don’t speak to their tutors at the university. It’s really important to talk to these people about what you think, what are your dreams and what are your plans. It’s always really helpful. If I didn’t speak to my lecturers about the things that I am interested in then I would’ve have gone further on it, you feel supported. There are loads of things in GCU that people should really take advantage of, like the Learning Development Centre and the Careers Centre and the library. So go for it.”

 

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