04 June 2021

'It is extremely important that UEA alumni support each other'

Sowmya and Mahnoor togetherMahnoor Qadir and Sowmya Shah met on their Sustainable Consumption module while studying an Environment MSc at UEA. They soon discovered that they had a lot in common and were even from the same area in Kenya. Since graduating, Mahnoor has set up her own podcast, ENVcast, and been featured as a UEA Climate star. Sowmya recently featured on an episode and afterwards we caught up with both of them separately and then together.

Graduating during a pandemic has come with its own set of hurdles however it has also pushed us to be more creative

Sowmya, how was your experience of being on the podcast? Do you think alumni can help each other to share ideas and gain experience?

Featuring as a guest on the podcast was absolutely amazing! It was an incredible opportunity to share my expertise with the world and support a dear friend. I also received great feedback from many peers who enjoyed listening to my contributions.

Engaging with the alumni community opens one’s mind to opportunities. It allows me to keep updated with advancements in my field through sharing ideas.


Tell us about your other interests and projects.

After graduation, I am very grateful to have completed a United Nations Volunteer Research Internship through which I have published 3 research articles on my favourite environmental science topics and I’ve presented at a global conference.

I have also started a personal book review page called SOMNOPSIS. The idea was inspired by my passion for reading and wanting to advocate the habit of reading and the power of books as a service to the wider world.  I share my opinions on the books I read and make recommendations on which to gift friends and family.

And what advice do you have to anyone starting out in today’s job market?

Find your dot! By this I mean find the topic/service that inspires you to commit to a career in it and give your all to gaining opportunities in that area.

And Mahnoor, what gave you the idea to start up a podcast?

Studying at the Environmental Science School at UEA was extremely insightful. It introduced the issue of climate change and the environment using different perspectives. People always see the climate crisis through science so I wanted to create a platform which brings together all these other angles that I learnt about.

 What issues have you discussed so far and favourite moments?

So far I have discussed and expressed my views on Biden’s Climate Summit, Oceans and Life under the sea and wastewater management. I also finished a two-part series to investigate the connections between Mental Health and Climate Change.

I think my most favourite moments are obviously forming new connections, speaking with peers like Sowmya on issues that we are passionate about and learning new things while researching for the episodes.

Mahnoor UEA

Why do you think it is important for fellow UEA alumni to help each other?

It is extremely important that UEA alumni support each other especially during this ongoing pandemic. We all have graduated in very challenging times and the best way to get through them is by supporting each other and giving each other opportunities whenever we can.

How did you meet while studying at UEA?

Mahnoor - We met in our sustainable consumption module and approached each other when we realized we were from Kenya. It was so exciting to meet someone from home.

What similarities did you find you had? Other than being from the same area?

Sowmya - Our love for the environment, sustainability and climate change – to work hard and make a positive impact. We always support and motivate each other.

How was your experience of UEA and living in Norwich?

S – It was absolutely incredible! I fell in love with the beautiful city as soon as I arrived. The campus, settled amongst a sea of greenery, was really the perfect setting for our degree.

M - It was truly wonderful. It was amazing studying at UEA so warm and welcoming. Norwich became a second home to me. I miss it so much now.

And how have you found the very start of your career since graduating?

S – Safe to say, it has been a unique experience. Graduating during a pandemic has come with its own set of hurdles however it has also pushed us to be more creative, dynamic and independent in our approach to gain opportunities for our careers!

Mahnoor and Sowmya met while studying at the School of Environmental Sciences.


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