Being Edinburgh
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Meet the finalists of the 2024 Being Edinburgh Award and vote for your winner.

Please note: voting has now closed. The winner will be announced on 4th April 2024.

Meet the 2024 finalists

Fabienne dos Santos Sousa & Annabella Feeny

Fabienne and Annabelle - Being Edinburgh award nominees 2024
Fabienne (left) and Annabelle

The motivation for Fabienne and Annabella’s work stems from their personal experiences of using the Counselling Services at the University of Edinburgh. Having benefitted from the support, they grew concerned when they discovered the Scottish Government planned to cut funding for counselling in colleges and universities after their graduation.

So they founded Phronesis Research, a student-led student mental health research group. They conducted two national studies in Scotland, delving into the demand and waiting times for University and College Counselling Services. The results were staggering, revealing a significant surge in waiting times, particularly at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Despite the challenges of obtaining data, they contacted every university and college in Scotland. Their research highlighted alarming statistics, including a 131% increase in university students and an 1854% rise in college students seeking counselling over less than a decade.

To ensure their findings reached policymakers, Fabienne and Annabella organised a successful conference with 70 attendees, including governmental policymakers and representatives from Universities Scotland and Colleges Scotland. They also published articles in the University and College Counselling Journal by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and presented at the conferences organised by Advance HE and ScotSMART.

The impact of their research was tangible when Scottish Education Minister Graeme Dey informed them that their recommendations had been implemented and that the Scottish Government established a 3.21 million student mental health transition fund.

Presently, Fabienne and Annabella persist in their mission for improved mental health care. Annabella volunteers for child mental health services and is applying for graduate studies in Clinical Psychology. Fabienne is a 1+3 Doctoral Fellow at Cambridge University, investigating CAMHS support for young people with social work involvement. Fabienne and Annabella also work with ScotSMART, the leading student mental health research network across Scotland, currently contributing to a ‘Public Health (Student Mental Health)’ working group.

Degrees: Fabienne: 2021 Psychology & 2022 Psychological Research / Annabelle: 2022 Psychological Research

Aayush Goyal

Aayush - Being Edinburgh award nominee 2024

Aayush runs a social enterprise called Social Stories Club, which he started will studying at the University of Edinburgh Business School. Aayush’s social enterprise is a corporate gift hamper company where every product inside the hampers has a sustainable story of impacting the world. In the hampers, you can find truffles made by women in Scotland who have previously touched the justice system, chocolate melts supporting refugees, and snacks fighting food waste. He is passionate about providing work for individuals with barriers to employment and has provided 6,500 hours of employment to people with barriers over the last six years.  He has also introduced ONE million people to social enterprise and invested £480k into the social enterprise economy.

Aayush runs Social Stories Club with fellow University of Edinburgh alumna, Karis Gill. Aayush is on a mission to change the world through social entrepreneurship and believes every business should adopt ethical business strategies. He is a living wage employer and is passionate about the environment and social causes. He mentors younger disadvantaged students and supports the next generation of social enterprise founders.

Aayush’s social enterprise has gained such great recognition, he was invited to meet the King, has won the UK’s largest business competition, Scottish Edge, and is financially backed by The Big Issue Invest. Aayush has featured in The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, and BBC Countryfile.

Degree: 2018 International Business

Swetha Kannan

Swetha - Being Edinburgh award nominee 2024

Swetha Kannan is a successful junior scientist, educator, and social entrepreneur currently affiliated with the University of Cambridge. During her time in Edinburgh she made significant contributions to the student and local community, including establishing the first student Society for Immunology, reviving the Gene and Cell Society, and volunteering at hospices and child-care homes. As a result of these efforts, Swetha received several awards from the university and was also chosen as the ‘valedictorian’ (student orator) at the School of Biological Sciences graduation ceremony in March 2023.

Coping with chronic illness and having lost family and friends to inequitable healthcare in India, she became determined to dedicate her life to service by combining her passion for science with her drive for social entrepreneurship. Her life took an important new direction at the age of 18, when she had to serve as primary caregiver to her grandmother following a cancer diagnosis. Her experiences led her to establish the Lalitha Foundation in Bangalore in 2019. The foundation, named after her grandmother, is dedicated to the psychological wellbeing of caregivers and patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer. It has enabled several thousand patients to improve their overall quality of life, raising money to mobilise services to rural areas and providing free psychological treatment to marginalised communities.

The foundation has now expanded its services to several cities, towns and rural districts in India and has been approached for collaboration by healthcare organizations in the UK and Africa. Swetha is currently also leading India’s first structured immunology education and research initiative aimed at students/early career scientists in biosciences/medicine which has been extensively featured by the media. Swetha's commitment to scientific entrepreneurship, education for social good has led her to receive several prestigious honors ranging from the Trinity Hall Volunteering Award to Lee-Yung Family Fund for Entrepreneurship (both presented by the University of Cambridge). Her innovation was judged as the one showing most promise, leading to Swetha being named winner of the Trinity Hall entrepreneurship competition held for awardees of a preliminary grant as part of the Lee-Yung Fund.

Swetha was also elected as an Access to Healthcare Scholar/Fellow at the renowned Clinton Global Initiative in 2019, named a 'Leader of Tomorrow' by Global Biotech Revolution and chosen as a winner of their 'Voices of Tomorrow' social impact competition at GapSummit'22 (Cambridge). In June 2023, Swetha was named as one of the three winners of Falling Walls Lab Cambridge for 'breaking the inequitable wall of cancer care' through her pioneering innovations (in collaboration with clinicians in India) to develop equitable/accessible precision cancer diagnostics and therapeutics in LMICs. Swetha’s successes in science and social entrepreneurship have been featured by several prestigious local and global news channels ( In light of her achievements, Swetha has also been shortlisted as by Cofinitive one of the Top 21 people, companies and inventions in Cambridge/East England.

As a feather to her crown, Swetha was honored with the most prestigious accolade a young person can receive for their humanitarian work, The Diana Award, earlier this year. Her vision to make the world a kinder and more equitable place, coupled with her passion for scientific research-driven healthcare has led her to recently develop a novel chemotherapeutic nanoparticle formulation-based pill for patients with cancer (which can be self-administered at home) which will soon be released in rural India where common cancer treatments are severely constrained by the availability of hospital beds/intravenous ports for drug delivery. Alongside this, she is pioneering the development of the first portable Quantum Electron-Tunnelling Based Spectroscope for the early detection of cancers in countries like India where a major barrier to cancer care is late detection of cancers due to poor awareness and limited accessibility of quality screening methods. 

Degree: 2021 Biological Science (Immunology)

Forget Shareka

Forget - Being Edinburgh award nominee 2024

Forget Shareka, who grew up in a rural area in Zimbabwe was raised by her late grandmother. She attended a school there and later joined a secondary school under the sponsorship of NGO CAMFED.

She studied Agricultural Science in Costa Rica and her Masters degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Edinburgh Business School. In 2018, with her one-year professional work experience, she helped five farmers successfully establish business enterprises through capacity building in business administration, agro-processing, financial literacy, and marketing.

Since then, Forget has been taking a lead in innovative initiatives and implementation of practical solutions in sustainable agribusiness, community development, small enterprises, and climate innovation field.

She is the Founder of LiHFA (Life Hope Future Association), which offers sustainable community development through education, agribusiness, youth and women empowerment; and is Co-founder and Business Development Director for Chashi Foods. Using renewable energy, the company endeavours to produce natural, highly nutritious, and tasty dried fruits and vegetables, with the aims to strengthen food and nutrition security, tackle food waste, promote sustainable income generation, reduce poverty and create employment to rural Zimbabwean women and youth.

Forget is also a vibrant agronomic engineer and award-winning entrepreneur and environmentalist and participated in Rural Community Development, COY16 and COP26, Youth in Agribusiness, and Girls on International Platforms.

Forget is also actively involved in community projects which emphasise sustainable development, smart climate agriculture, poverty alleviation, entrepreneurship, and empowerment. Under one of these projects she co-developed an award winning smart climate agriculture guide being used by CMFED for training and benefited more than 30 000 women.

Currently, she is working  as  Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) Officer at  Viberoptix. Forget is contributing on National Determined Contributions (NDCs) consultancy under the banner of inclusion and sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

Forget Shareka was also the ‘Ellie Maxwell Award, 2021’ winner and she was named as one of the Edinburgh Climate 75.

Degree: 2021 Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Katarína Štiglincová

Katarína Štiglincová - Being Edinburgh award nominee 2024


Katarína works as Protection Associate in the UNHCR Legal Team in Slovakia. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. In her role, Katarína supports people forced to flee and assists and liaises with the relevant authorities to ensure that refugees and stateless persons enjoy in Slovakia the widest possible exercise of a range of fundamental rights and freedoms. So what does it look like in practice? Katarína supports initiatives to build the capacity of actors relevant to the protection of refugees, such as border police and police officers working with FRONTEX.  

She works very closely with UNHCR’s national NGO partner who is present in asylum and detention facilities in Slovakia. The NGO partner supports asylum seekers and other people in need of international protection with protection services such as providing information, access to documentation, legal counselling and representation, psycho-social support and community-based activities, and Katarina helps ensure compliance with global protection policies and standards of professional integrity. 

She also supports people forced to flee through individual counselling, so that by listening to their needs and concerns the necessary protection and assistance activities could be better built around them. Katarina engages with refugees and host communities to understand the different needs and protection risks within communities with the aim of ensuring that the most vulnerable, such as children who come to Slovakia without their parents, people with disabilities or survivors of torture or sexual and gender-based violence, can access additional protection and the specialized services they need.

Degree: 2018 International Law

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