Our alumnus Um-E-Aymen Babar has been awarded the prestigious Hugh Cudlipp student journalism prize, for an article which includes parts of her thesis written at Queen Mary.
After graduating from our School of English with a First Class Honours, in 2021 Aymen went on to the University of Cambridge for a Masters researching sports in the South Asian subcontinent. Aymen’s studies fuelled her interest in how sport intersects with race and class, which has now become the focus of her award-winning journalism.
This month, Aymen won the Hugh Cudlipp Student Journalist Award and a £1,500 cash prize. A joint initiative of the London Press Club and Daily Mirror, the honour was created to recognise a student who has made an outstanding contribution to journalism, as well as exploring an issue of public interest or concern which exemplifies lucid and graphic communication.
Aymen was awarded the prize following her journalistic debut in The Nightwatchman, Wisden’s quarterly collection of essays and long-form articles. She wrote a hard-hitting commentary on the effects of the Azim Rafiq racism scandal, which included parts of her thesis written during her time studying at Queen Mary.
Reflecting on her journey to this achievement, Aymen said: “I had a passion for English Literature from a young age and really enjoyed studying it at Queen Mary University of London. I was able to explore texts ranging from Chaucer to post-colonial texts by Anita Desai. In my final year, when I was supervised by Professor David Colclough, I became interested in sport literature and wrote my thesis on C.L.R. James’ Beyond a Boundary.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the School of English and Drama, and in particular my wonderful supervisor Professor David Colclough, for all his continued support. These achievements would not have been possible without them, and I would also like to extend my support to all the institutional and structural challenges that academic staff are facing in higher education.”
The Cudlipp judges called Aymen’s work “a brave, poignant, well-researched and timely piece that asks as many questions as it answers about systemic racism”. They also praised her for “preaching outside the choir, by speaking to readers of Wisden’s cricket magazine in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal”.
Dr Suzanne Hobson, Head of the Department of English at Queen Mary, said: “This is wonderful news, and we would all like to congratulate Aymen on her very well-deserved success. English is a key part of our curriculum and research culture at Queen Mary, so it’s fantastic to see one of our graduates go on to receive this prestigious prize. We are proud to have been a part of Aymen’s journey so far and excited to see where her career goes next.”