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Aston graduate presented with British Empire Medal in special ceremony

Aston Graduate presented BEM
From left to right : Prof. Dame Julia King, Anisa Haghdadi and Mr Paul Sabapathy CBE

28 January 2014

An Aston University graduate has formally received a prestigious award following recognition in the Queen's 2013 Birthday Honours list.

Anisa Haghdadi was presented with a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to education and young people at a special ceremony in Aston University’s Martin Luther King Multi Faith Centre.

After graduating in 2012, Anisa set up a number of businesses and has demonstrated real passion for working with the youth community in Birmingham. Her project, Beatfreeks, is an award-winning social enterprise engaging young people in arts, training and leadership opportunities. She has also recently co-founded digital start-up Class Careers, which streams live webinars to students directly from employers’ offices.

The award was presented by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutentant of West Midlands, Mr Paul Sabapathy CBE, who gave a speech congratulating Anisa on her achievements. The formal presentation was followed by impromptu spoken word performances by several of the young artists who Beatfreeks has helped to inspire over the past 12 months.

Speaking about her honour, the Business and Management graduate said: 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”.

The presentation ceremony was attended by Anisa’s family, friends and colleagues, as well as Aston University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Julia King, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor, Helen Higson, and representatives from Aston Business School and BSEEN.

BSEEN, a programme that offers students and graduates support with new ventures, assisted Anisa in the start-up of Beatfreeks.

Anisa is a fantastic example of Aston University’s key values — hardworking, creative and entrepreneurial

Professor Dame Julia King, Aston University, said: Anisa is a fantastic example of Aston University’s key values — hardworking, creative and entrepreneurial. Always trying to make a difference for the community and for society, she has always worked for the good of her fellow citizens”.

The British Empire Medal was reinstated in the 2012 Queen's Birthday Honours to recognise volunteers who make a real difference to their communities.

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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.