Written by Isabelle Osborne, Final Year BA English
International Women's Day and International Women's History Month fall in March. The day dates to 1911, and people across the globe have since used the day to share the importance of uplifting women, raising awareness of issues women face, and breaking the barriers to female empowerment.
Though it is a time to celebrate and empower women all around the world, it is also an opportunity to celebrate the women closer to home. From psychology graduates to linguists, UCL has seen countless women go on to build successful and inspirational careers in its lifetime. Read on to hear about five powerful women who, since graduating UCL, have created unique opportunities to achieve their goals and stand as testament to the great things women are capable of.
After graduating from UCL with an MSc in Medical Anthropology, Rachael co-founded and is now the CEO of Afrocenchix, a business that creates ethical, sustainable and high quality hair products for afro and curly hair. Afrocenchix has won an award for ‘Ethical and Sustainable Business Innovation’ from the University of Birmingham, won the Bright Ideas Award from UCL, was voted BBFA BEST NATURAL HAIR BRAND 2018, and has become a worldwide brand.
2. Abigail Irozuru
Abigail (BA Law 2012) is a world-class long jump athlete. She has represented Great Britain and England since 2007, won a gold medal at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games, and became the Indoor British Long Jump Champion in 2015. As well as her stellar athletic career, Abigail founded ‘Amplify Corporate Training’, a business that offers training days to help employees foster positive change in their companies and helps people reach for their dreams. She also works closely within the UCL community, one such example being the UCL Skills Based Mentoring Programme, whereby she worked with a student from an underrepresented background.
3. Crystelle Pereira
Crystelle (BA Modern Languages 2017) appeared on The Great British Bake Off in 2021. In an interview with UCL, Crystelle said “I applied thinking I wouldn’t get on – it was such a surprise when I was told the good news”. In spite of her doubts, she made it all the way to the final, after only starting baking seriously in 2018. Aside from her Bake Off success, Crystelle lives by an inspirational ethos that we can all apply to our lives: “I try to seize all the opportunities that come my way....You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve when you challenge yourself.”
4. Dr Anjhula Mya Singh Bais
Anjhula (MSc Psychoanalysis 2006) began her career as refugee psychotherapist while studying at UCL, and now uses her psychology education in her work as a trauma psychologist in Malaysia. Anjhula has been named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, among Prestige’s top 40 under 40, and Marie Claire’s top 25 Amazing Women. She received a People’s Choice award from Savvy magazine, and was awarded the 2020 American Psychological Association Global Citizen Psychologist Citation, amongst other accolades. Not forgetting, she currently serves as the Chair of the International Board of Amnesty International.
5. Shakaila Forbes-Bell
Shakaila(BSc Psychology 2014) is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fashion is Psychology Ltd, a leading platform in fashion psychology. Her work centres around assisting companies in creating better consumer experiences using her expertise in fashion psychology. Since founding FiP, Shakaila became Afterpay’s in-house Fashion Psychologist, and has worked on the campaigns with Next, Sainsbury’s, and Northwest London Waste Collection. In September, Shakaila’s first book, Big Dress Energy: How Fashion Psychology Can Transform Your Wardrobe and Your Confidence, will be published, an insight into ‘how our wardrobe acts as an extension of our identity’.