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Excellence Scholarship winner Iqra Tahir at a Scholarship Awards Evening.Iqra Tahir believes her Excellence Scholarship has instilled her with the confidence to continue to help other people in the community.

The third-year Operating Department Practice student, who is based at Edge Hill University’s Faculty of Health & Social Care Campus in Manchester, is involved with several youth boards regionally and in her home town of Rochdale.

A former student of Oulder Hill Community School and Rochdale Sixth Form College, Iqra was granted her scholarship during the first year of her degree in 2017 in recognition of her work in helping promote health and educational opportunities for young people.

“The scholarship has motivated me to carry on volunteering and take part in further activities as it has helped me gain confidence and grow as individual”, she admitted. “It has made want to help other people and inspire other students to take part in outside activities enhance and build own their skills.”

Iqra is on the eight-person NW Youth Focus charity board, which she joined having been involved with the Youthforia forum, delivering workshops as a steering group member. They meet every six weeks to discuss policies with the aim of building youth engagement.

“We look at how to extend the reach to get more young people involved to ensure they have the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge. I had never been part of the board and this was my chance to develop skills. There is no harm in learning new things – everything will help you one day.”

Despite also being the youngest member of the Connect Health Cities Greater Manchester Group, Iqra was elected chairperson, a role that involves planning, organising and creating agendas, as well as leading bi-monthly meetings.

“We take part in different projects, which include public engagement in health services. Chairing a large adult group has helped me learn things from people around me, building my confidence and developing my knowledge of the role.”

As well as helping promote health initiatives and opportunities for young people in the wider area, Iqra is also keen to improve life in Rochdale.

“I am still part of the youth council, working on projects including ‘mental health week of action’, running a young opportunity fund and overseeing a ‘Curriculum for Life’ campaign with local schools which aims to provide people with life skills.”

Community work includes working with the town’s youth cabinet and volunteering groups to deliver workshops for Youthforia and the council – while a youth exchange trip to Turkey is planned, to look at how communities can help instigate environmental change.

Iqra, who last year raised money for a spinal cord injury charity after taking part in the Aspire Channel swimming challenge (completing 22 miles over the course of a few weeks), admits organisation is a key part of her life, in planning and fulfilling her commitments on top of her degree.

“I have to be really organised; when it’s times for university work, it’s time to do the work. I must plan my week beforehand, to ensure that I leave enough for my work and for everything else. Sometimes it can be difficult to manage everything.

“However, I love what I do, and I love being part of amazing projects that have helped me have some amazing experiences, build memories and allowed me to make lifelong friends. Helping in the community and doing activities outside university make me who I am. Dreams are not achieved without the hard work.”

Post-degree Iqra is keen to continue studying and gaining more placement experience with the view of perhaps going into medicine. Whatever is in store, she is keen to pursue a career helping other people.

“My volunteering and hospital placement has made me realise that I love to help people. If I could help someone every day that would be an achievement. I am not certain, but I would love to be a doctor as I will get to help people from all walks of life. However, I love my degree and I am excited to graduate as a qualified practitioner.”

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