Aston graduate awarded British Empire Medal in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Anisa Haghdadi

17 June 2013

Aston University graduate Anisa Haghdadi has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to education and young people in the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours list.

The British Empire Medal was reinstated in 2012 to recognise volunteers who make a real difference to their communities.

Anisa graduated from Aston University in 2012 with a degree in Business and Management. At only 23 she has set up a number of social enterprises, represented young people on a local Chamber of Commerce entrepreneurship board and co-founded a successful training company. Anisa set up her first social enterprise - a dance class at her local YMCA Centre - at the age of 15 and she has since gone on to run successful dance showcases in Birmingham by securing funding and also raising money for Acorns Children’s Hospice. 

Anisa is exceptional in terms of her entrepreneurial outlook and achievements for her age, she has a real passion for working with the Birmingham youth community and inspiring them. Her most recent project, Beatfreeks, is an award-winning social enterprise engaging young people in arts, training and leadership opportunities. She has also recently co-founded Career Groove with Aston Alumnus Christos Orthodoxou which streams live webinars to students directly from employers offices. Anisa is also looking at ways to retain top talent in Birmingham through a web start-up Work Stay Play.

It is not the first time that Anisa’s achievements have been recognised. In 2012, she was awarded the Birmingham Young Professional of the Year (BYPY) ‘Aspiring Talent’ Award which recognises exceptional individuals aged between 16 and 23.

Speaking about her most recent honour, Anisa said: “I was shocked to receive the letter recommending me for a BEM. It is a great privilege to be honoured in this way. I always try to be a positive role model and aim to raise the aspirations of young people through my work. I hope that this recognition will help to prove to others that social enterprise is a viable option for people of any age and any background.”

She added: “I am grateful to Aston University for all the support they have given me during my studies and since graduating last year. My involvement in the BSEEN programme, a business start up initiative between Aston University, University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University, and to receive support from UnLtd for my social enterprise after graduating helped me to develop the technical, professional and transferable skills I needed to start my various ventures. The University’s on-going support has proved to be invaluable.”

Professor Helen Higson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Aston University, said: “We are very proud of Anisa. To achieve so much at such a young age is unbelievable. She is a credit to the University and we look forward to following what is sure to be a promising future ahead.


For further media information, please contact Emma Sutton, Business Partnership Unit, Aston University, on 0121 204 4542 or e.sutton@aston.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

The BSEEN (Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network) scheme offers students and graduates a great package of intensive start-up support for new ventures and is based at Birmingham Science Park Aston. BSEEN, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is a collaborative initiative between Aston University, University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University.


Aston University works closely with UnLtd, a charity with a long history of supporting social/community enterprises, to help staff, students and recent graduates with an idea that will create positive social impact get up and running. The programme works to provide support for the individuals to develop plans, gain access to a range of specialist advisers, and financial support of varying sizes.




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