Arden EDI Scholarship recipients announced

Five inspirational students have become recipients of the Arden University Equality Scholarship, obtaining full scholarships for the remainder of their studies in the process.

Celebrating diversity, equality, and inclusion across the university, this new scholarship has been designed to support Arden students who have had to overcome barriers, just because of who they are, in achieving the success they deserve in their lives and careers.

Professor Dilshad Sheikh, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Business, said: 'This is not just a scholarship. It’s a recognition of the barriers people have faced and a celebration of how they have overcome them. It’s showcasing our commitment to bringing people together and making inequality history.

'We hope this scholarship will help to level the playing field and give students who have had to overcome significant barriers throughout their lives, education, and careers a helping hand. We want to ensure that no matter where our students come from, we are giving them all the support they need to ensure they go on to achieve everything they aspire to in their professional lives.'

The five students, selected by Arden’s Equality Scholarship panel, have all faced barriers due to factors such as their ethnic or socioeconomic background, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, neurodiversity, religion, or age. 

You can find out a bit more about some of them below. 

Meet the students

Samina Castillo 

"I'm very thrilled for the official announcement of the EDI Scholarship Awardees and for the opportunity to share my story and interact with other outstanding individuals who have also been acknowledged for their efforts. 

It's a fantastic opportunity to learn from one another and establish a strong network of like-minded individuals who are passionate about making a positive impact in their various industries. I can't wait to hear everyone's experiences and see how we can help one another in our future pursuits."


Harrison Ragnarsson

"Whilst I did not expect to receive the Arden Scholarship, I was pleasantly shocked when it happened.

From the day I was born I have had to overcome numerous obstacles involving my disability. I am legally blind, with no central vision, and just under ten percent peripheral vision. 

As you can imagine, life has not been easy. But the financial support (provided by the Arden Scholarship) has gone a long way in helping me broaden my understanding of human behaviour.

I initially wanted to study psychology as I thought it could help me overcome my inner demons and become a better person overall. To my delight, this is exactly what happened, and my journey was only made easier with the help of the Arden Scholarship.

For this, I am beyond grateful, and I hope my story can show others that they can rise high in the world, no matter who they are or where they come from. 

Believe in yourself, focus on what you can control, and good things will happen." 


Jelena Ushakova

"I am delighted to have received the Arden Scholarship. Throughout my life I have had to overcome adversity due to my ethnicity. This financial help will allow me to take additional courses in Psychology and become a better specialist in the future.

Although this is an amazing reward, I am happier that my issue had been heard, understood, and marked as important. This gives me a strong sense of hope that I have successfully overcome the adversity that happened in the start of my life.

I was born in Latvia. My parents had soviet passports and after the USSR collapse in 1991 they received Alien status. I was same and it was literally written in my passport “Alien”. How do you think this makes a child feel, being separated from everyone else in society? 

Aliens cannot vote at elections or work in public service, for example, as teachers, policemen, etc. At the age of 15, I went through a naturalisation procedure and became a citizen of Latvia. Finally, I became just like everyone else. However, this did not cover the hole in my heart and I thought that international democratic community had to know about this issue, so I travelled a lot, learned to sail, sailed across the Atlantic ocean and took my story with me around the world. I now live in Germany and continue to support initiatives that relate to diversity and inclusion at my workplace and beyond.

I am pretty sure now, that this scholarship will help me finish my education and make my dreams of helping others a reality."


Zeenus Oldham

"It is an honour and privilege to receive the Arden Equality Diversity Inclusion Scholarship. I was extremely happy when I found that I was one of the selected students and immediately rang my grandmother, who lives in Nepal. It was both an emotional and a happy feeling. 

My grandmother raised me in a small village called Rampur in Nepal. As a child, I remember being bullied for having a mother who abandoned me and my sister and my father being an alcoholic. My peers, teachers, and people around me would belittle me and make fun of my family situation. It was a challenging and helpless situation. But I overcame it by focusing on my life goals, not losing hope, and becoming a better human every day by doing what is best for my sister and family. 

When I moved to the UK, my first job was working in a local pub as a waitress where I had an incident where some employees made fun of my English, used racist words and locked me outside in the rain. This made me insecure about my English-speaking ability. I complained to the manager, but no actions were taken. Instead of suffering in silence, I decided to share my experiences with other students at Arden university and a psychology network such as Race, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Neurodiversity.  

I have a younger brother and sister who I still support, and last month, I had to admit my father to rehabilitation again. This scholarship will help me to save money so that I can help my siblings.

Additionally, in Nepal, many people do not have access to healthcare, especially mental health; the scholarship will help me become a clinical psychologist, first gaining knowledge and experience in the UK before helping those who do not have access in my home country. This scholarship will not only help to improve my life but hopefully theirs too. And together we can bring change in society where everyone will be treated equally with respect dignity."