Wikimedia Commons

On Oct. 10, former Yale World Fellows Nizam Uddin and Baljeet Sandhu were named to the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2020 list for their contributions to the United Kingdom.

The annual list recognizes the achievements of people across the United Kingdom in various areas of public service. Recipients of the honor are recognized for their achievements in public life or for committing themselves to serving and helping the country. Uddin and Sandhu were recognized for their services to social mobility and community integration as well as equality and civil society, respectively.

“We are hugely proud of Nizam and Baljeet,” Emma Sky, director of the World Fellows Program, wrote in an email to the News. “They are making a real difference — and are helping to build a better Britain.”

Uddin is the senior head of the Mosaic and Community Integration at the Prince’s Trust. The Prince’s Trust, a leading youth charity in the U.K., helps young people by giving them the skills and confidence to fulfill their aspirations. Mosaic is an initiative that was founded separately in 2007 but joined the Prince’s Trust four-and-a-half years ago. The group is focused on addressing inequalities in isolated communities.

Uddin’s job is to ensure that young people of all backgrounds and communities have the chance to succeed in life by connecting them to role models, building their network and building their social and cultural capital.

For example, the group provides mentoring to young students through the Mosaic Secondary School Programme. The group works in schools in under-resourced areas and brings volunteers that can relate to the students whether through their background, identity or other factors.

This work has been a personal mission for Uddin. Growing up in an area of “high deprivation” without immediate access to professionals in his family, Uddin made a commitment to himself at a young age that he would strive to make society better as he got older so that many of the obstacles he faced would not be prevalent for others.

“I know what it’s like to navigate through life where you may not know the language or currency of navigating structures that are otherwise difficult to penetrate,” Uddin told the News. “I have firsthand experience of seeing my friends and family also fall at hurdles because society has been designed in a way that isn’t really accessible to everybody.”

For Uddin, receiving the award was humbling. He says that the nicest messages he received are from people he grew up with.

Uddin also reflected on the positive experience he had with the Yale World Fellows program, citing the relationships he built with other fellows. He described coming to New Haven as a “home from home” due to its similarities with the community that he grew up in.

“The World Fellows experience was a wonderful period of deep inflection and insights,” Uddin said. “You get to meet some incredible humans from across the world who become your family.”

Sandhu, another former World Fellow, was also honored for her services to equality and civil society as the founder for the Centre for Knowledge Equity, an organization that utilizes lived experiences to solve current social, economic and environmental problems.

Prior to coming to Yale, Sandhu was a human rights lawyer with the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit. While doing this work, Sandhu began to shift her focus to look at the value of lived experiences and the knowledge that can be gained through them.

It was this exploration of new forms of human wisdom that brought her to New Haven. In the Elm City, she said, she had space to think and build these concepts with incredible people, whether students, professors or global leaders.

It was also at Yale where she coined the term “knowledge equity,” which is to look at knowledge not only as the learned technical knowledge but knowledge in the form of lived experiences. It became important for Sandhu to bring leaders with lived experiences together to create change which led to her and other leaders to found the Lived Experience Leaders Movement. Then, after requests for a unified infrastructure, Sandhu established the Centre for Knowledge Equity to serve as home to the Lived Experience Leaders Movement.

“It’s been an incredible partnership with incredible lived experience leaders,” Sandhu told the News. “We have designers, innovators, activists, all coming together using different mediums for change. It was an absolute honor to hear about the award. But the award is really for those leaders.”

Both fellows remained connected to Yale after their time in the program. Sky and Uddin co-founded the Good Society Forum this year, an organization seeking to bring change-makers from across the world to build a good and better society, especially post-COVID-19. Sandhu has also returned to Yale as a global innovator in residence at Tsai CITY to start the Knowledge Equity Initiative, a research, education and practice hub to allow students to think about the value of lived and learned experience in innovation and entrepreneurship.

1,358 people from across the United Kingdom were honored in the 2020 list.

Sai Rayala | sai.rayala@yale.edu

SAI RAYALA
Sai Rayala writes about the climate and environmental efforts in New Haven. Originally from Powell, Ohio, she is a first-year in Timothy Dwight College planning to major in History.