British Council

Oxford’s international alumni recognised for their achievements after university

The skills, inspiration and culture gained from studying at Oxford University have helped five international alumni win praise from the British Council.

From addressing climate change to improving women’s access to technology, Oxford alumni have been recognised for their pioneering work and determination. 

Four alumni reached the finals and one former student came first in the Education UK Alumni Awards 2015 for alumni from India, China and the US. There were three Awards – Professional Achievement, Entrepreneurial and Social Impact – up for grabs for alumni from each nation.

Ruthe Farmer (pictured right, 2007, St Cross, MBA) won the Social Impact award for alumni from the US. The extraordinary journey of David Fajgenbaum (2007, Brasenose, MSc (Res) Public Health) from developing a rare and deadly disease to devising new therapies for himself and others also caught the attention of the judges.

The achievements of the Oxford alumni and their successes in the contest are detailed below:

Ruthe Farmer (pictured right, 2007, St Cross, MBA), Winner, Social Impact award for alumni from the US

Ruth is a chief strategy and growth officer for the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), a not-for-profit community of more than 600 organisations dedicated to increasing women’s participation in technology. Since 2008, she has developed NCWIT Aspirations in Computing into the largest technology talent programme for young women in the US.

Ruthe’s Oxford education provided her with both the culture to navigate corporate networks and the business skills to drive her vision of equity in technology. Ruthe’s determination for changing women’s underrepresentation in tech has inspired many young women to do the same - as such she is described as a ‘career fairy godmother’ by her students.

David Fajgenbaum (2007, Brasenose, MSc (Res) Public Health), Finalist, Social Impact Award for alumni from the US

While David was at medical school, he developed Multicentric Castleman disease, a deadly illness that involves immune hyper activation and multiple organ failure. Now as Co-founder and Executive Director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, David has identified new therapies and treatment for the disease that nearly killed him. 

David combined his passion for public health, medical training, and not-for-profit experience to create a new model that focuses on global collaboration. This year David was listed on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in healthcare. 

David credits his Oxford education for teaching him to question the status quo and change the world.

Salman Asim (2006, St John’s, MPhil Economics), Finalist, Social Impact Award for alumni from the US

Applying the strong analytical skills gained from his UK education, Salman joined the Development Economics Research Group, where he worked on the evaluation of community-driven development projects. He later joined the World Bank as an Economist, working on primary education reforms in South Asia. 

His work has been crucial for informing the policy dialogue on education development in Pakistan and could, in turn, create opportunities and access to education for vulnerable households, giving a voice to local communities and benefiting future generations.  

His Oxford education gave him strong analytical skills and enabled Salman to continue to develop his excellent work ethic.

Luhui Yan (2008, MSc Computer Science, Wolfson), Finalist, Social Impact Award for alumni from China

Within two years after finishing his studies at Oxford, Luhui became the founder and CEO of Carbonstop, one of China’s first carbon management software and consulting solution provider. Carbonstop enables organisations to understand their carbon footprint, while also providing consultancy services to encourage businesses and industry to save costs while reducing their impact on the environment.

His knowledge and skills have led him to work in a consultancy and advisory capacity for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC). 

Bryce Goodman (2007, New College, BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics), Finalist, Entrepreneurial Award for alumni from the US

After completing his studies at Oxford, Bryce co-founded BlueOak Resources, an e-recycling company which converts e-waste into sustainable metals for future technologies. A first of its kind, BlueOak is working to reduce the amount of toxic metals in US landfills. BlueOak has secured more than $40m from top tier investors, including Kleiner Perkins. 

Bryce found that the UK’s rich and global history heightened his sustainable philosophy, which drove him to create an ecological and commercially viable enterprise.

The winners of the awards were announced in March 2015.

For more information about the Alumni Awards, please see the Education UK Alumni Awards website. The British Council is the UK’s cultural relations organisation.