Rising Stars: What happened next for Rabia Nasimi

WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards are now in their fourth year.

The Rising Star awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create female 100 role models across 20 different industries and professions.

Over the year’s, the awards have recognised 400 women across the UK and India.

In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.

We spoke with Rabia Nasimi, who won a 2018 Rising Star Award in Charity.

Rabia Nasimi is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Cambridge University. She graduated from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2016 with an MSc in Sociology (Research). Her undergraduate degree was in Sociology and Politics from the University of Goldsmiths in 2015 where she received a first for her dissertation. Whilst studying she has been extensively involved, as Strategic Development Manager, in running the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA), a charity founded by her father Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi in 2001 to support refugee integration in the UK.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a Rising Star award?

It is an honour to receive such a prestigious award. As someone who juggles my studies at Cambridge University with my work volunteering as the Strategic Development Manager at the ACAA, it means a lot to be recognised.

I came to this country as a refugee fleeing the Taliban so I am thrilled to have been chosen as a ‘Rising Star’ for my work supporting other refugees to integrate into British society.

I was only five when my family and I travelled to the UK. My father, an academic, had become a target of the Taliban and we needed to leave the country. The journey was not an easy one and we were fortunate to arrive safely.

We saw Britain as a place of freedom and safety and were attracted by its model of integration, where people can express their identity and religion openly. We worked hard to adjust to our new community and some of the challenges we identified as we settled into the UK led my father to create the ACAA. Informed by our own first-hand experiences, we have been able to design holistic support for other refugees adapting to their new life here.

One of the services I oversee is the women’s refugee programme at the ACAA. So as a champion of women’s rights, both here and in Afghanistan, it’s wonderful to receive this award from an organisation that does so much in this space. I hope my story inspires other refugees who arrive in the UK, particularly women, to grab the opportunities on offer here with both hands and become ‘Rising Stars’ themselves.

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star award? (were you featured internally on your intranets, did you receive any press coverage, have you done any public speaking, have you won any other awards?  Have you done something that you felt more confident about doing, eg public speaking. Have you done anything to give back to others etc.)

Since winning the ‘Rising Star’ award, I have been busy continuing my PhD studies and building on my work to expand the support we offer at the ACAA. I’ve had some great feedback from people about my win and of course my family and friends are very proud.

When I first moved to the UK, learning both a new language and culture were two very big challenges. Thankfully so many people helped us as a family to integrate into British society and many more supported me personally along my professional journey.

This support, alongside my education here in the UK, has given me the confidence to regularly speak in public. In particular, I enjoy panel discussions, and on Tuesday 6 November I’ll be joining a debate about the effects of refugees on society at the Royal Holloway University of London.

What advice would you give to someone else going through our award’s process?

My advice for anyone thinking of applying for the award would be to go for it! It’s a great opportunity to highlight the fantastic work women are doing across many different fields.

Unbeknown to me, I was kindly nominated for the award by a lecturer who evaluates our work at theACAA. It made my day when I found out I had won it. I would encourage other women to put themselves forward or nominate others. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it and WATC has been really supportive throughout the process.

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?

Two key things that have helped me succeed so far are organisation and making the most of every opportunity that arises. Each opportunity you are offered opens another door so I would certainly encourage others to say ‘yes’ to as much as possible.

I also believe that patience and tolerance are personal qualities which can enable you to expand your network and grow through connecting with other people. Finally, and most importantly, do not let other people set limits for you. You are the master of your own destiny and capable of a lot more than you may think!

Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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