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Students passing by the main entrance of the Roeterseiland Campus.

UvA students win ECHO Award for commitment to equal opportunities

Published on 15-01-2024
On 7 December, UvA students Saadullah Shehadeh (Medicine) and Shahram Malouki (Private Law) won an ECHO Award 2023. They received this award for actively working to combat exclusion in Dutch society.
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Acting Minister Dijkgraaf presented the award to Saadullah and Shahram. They will receive a fully funded Summer Course at UCLA in Los Angeles.

Contributing to equal opportunities

UvA student and ECHO Award winner Saadullah Shehadeh
UvA student and ECHO Award winner Saadullah Shehadeh

In 7 years, Saadullah has progressed from being a newcomer in a Dutch asylum seekers' center to an honours student in medicine. Starting in pre-vocational secondary education (vmbo), he advanced to senior general secondary education (havo) and pre-university education (vwo) through his own motivation and encouragement from teachers. During his recently completed Bachelor's in Medicine, he also participated in an Honours programme. Additionally, he contributes to VR research in the heart surgery department of Amsterdam UMC.

As a mentor, Saadullah guides students through the selection process for Medicine, promoting diversity in the medical field. Saadullah says, 'As someone with a non-Western background, you face an extra barrier. The language, the culture. You feel like you are seen in a different way because you deviate from the norm. In an ultra-competitive world like medicine, that is challenging. Therefore, I assist high school students in preparing for the Medicine selection. I provide tutoring and advice, hoping to contribute to equal opportunities.'

Youth representative at Police Netherlands

Acting Minister Dijkgraaf with Shahram Malouki
Acting Minister Dijkgraaf with Shahram Malouki

Similarly, Shahram started in pre-vocational secondary education during high school but aspired to attend university. His strong motivation helped him complete his senior general secondary education, pre-university education, and cum laude honours Bachelor's in Law. Shahram says, 'Of course, you have to implement it in practice in the end, but good planning is indispensable to achieve your goals. Choose moments when you enjoy yourself to the max, but also moments when you work hard to achieve your goals.'

Shahram received his ECHO Award, among other things, for his work as a youth representative at Police Netherlands. He actively contributes to research on racism and discrimination following the documentary "De Blauwe Familie" (The Blue Family). The jury also appreciated Shahram's contribution to the establishment of the first Islamic student association at UvA: SV MusaExternal link.

Read the full interview with Shahram here

About the ECHO Award

The ECHO Awards are presented annually to successful students with a non-Western background who stand out for their entrepreneurial spirit, organisational skills, active societal engagement, and constructive approach to challenges related to exclusion.