Ilyas took part in the MAP programme during his A-levels at Loreto Sixth Form College and graduated from the general strand in 2011.
He studied Psychology, Sociology and Law which led him to apply and be accepted onto the Middle Eastern Studies course at The University of Manchester. He won a number of awards during his time on the course and is now an officer at the National Union of Students (NUS).
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from Old Trafford and attended Stretford High School before progressing to Loreto Sixth Form College. During my time at the University, I worked as a Student Ambassador and as a mentor in local schools. As a result of the amount of time I spent working within the widening participation team, I was awarded the Making a Difference Award for Student Contribution to Widening Participation. I also won a Making a Difference Award for Public Engagement with the Ramadan Tent Project team, which was all about unifying the local community over the simple act of sharing a meal.
In my final year, I was elected onto the executive team at the students’ union, holding the position of diversity officer. This involved representing the 40,000-strong student body to University staff, local government and the press. It was a fun year in which I set the foundation for lots of exciting projects like the Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador Scheme and the Masters Nurseries. I was then elected as an officer at the National Union of Students (NUS), which represents 1.5 million students of African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean descent. My role is extremely varied, and can include everything from media interviews and lobbying in parliament to travelling across the country to support students making changes in their institutions.
How did you hear about the MAP?
Through the bribe of a McDonald’s on a Friday lunch time. The deal was if I went with my friend to a presentation we’d be able to go get a fillet meal before our Chemistry class.
What did you enjoy the most about participating on the scheme?
Definitely the University Life Conference and residential.
How did the programme help you to get to where you are now?
Without MAP, I would simply not be where I am now. The public speaking skills I picked up still help me whenever I have to speak at conferences, and the analytical skills I developed allow me to dissect parliamentary briefings and write amendments to government legislation.
What advice would you give others who are thinking of applying to the programme?
DO IT! The networks, support and advice that MAP offers will change your life.