Women in STEM steal show at QUB graduation

  • Photo: Madina Sharifova

    Last week, 19-year-old Madina Sharifova from Azerbaijan graduated from Queen's University Belfast with a First Class Honours in Biomedical Sciences.

    The award-winning graduate came to Northern Ireland aged 16 and also received several accolades for both her academic and extracurricular endeavours.

    “I met lots of other international students at Queen’s and very quickly felt like Belfast was my ‘home away from home’," said Madina, who now hopes to find work in a UK-based laboratory.

    "I worked really hard but was still very surprised to hear I won a scholarship at the end of my first year.”

    Madina won the “First year international student scholarship” for achieving the highest marks among biomedical students.

    Other female STEM representatives that received their degrees last week include two Co Tyrone sisters, who graduated with medical degrees on the same day from QUB. 

    Alison and Emma McAllen

    28-year-old Alison McAllen from Cookstown and her sister Emma, who is five years her junior, both received their bachelor’s degrees in Medicine after helping each other throughout their studies.

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    Alison started at Queen’s 10 years ago and completed a Master of Science degree in maths, before realising that her "true passion" was to become a doctor. 

    “I was lucky enough to be able to share this experience with my sister Emma who was also beginning her journey at Queen’s to become a doctor,” she said.

    “Some of our highlights at Queen’s are the times we travelled to Belfast on a Sunday night together, being able to practice our OSCEs with each other which helped us prepare for the clinical and communication aspects of becoming a doctor and helping each other study for our exams.

    “We enjoyed being in the same lectures, and because of our surnames, we were in the same tutorial groups at Queen’s. It was fantastic to be able to share our experiences of becoming doctors together. I am so proud of us both graduating today.”

    The two sisters will begin work in August at Belfast City Hospital as junior doctors. 

    Alison is starting in nephrology (which relates to diseases affecting the kidneys), while Emma will specialse in medical oncology (relating to cancers and malignant tumours). 

    RELATED: Local ladies representing NI's STEM sector in this year's Miss NI contest


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