As someone who is terrified of travelling, when the invitation to the Undergraduate of The Year Award Finals in London came in the mail, my first instinct was ” Oh wow…..oh no”.
I promptly checked online for train tickets and cringed inwards as I clicked the “pay now” button, afraid to even think about how far I set myself back on groceries. Exchange rates can be brutal to families like mine, you see. Soon the deed was done, weeks later I found myself once again on the train to London, beginning my adventure into the unknown.
I emerged from the Canary Wharf underground tube station, and a breathtaking sight greeted me on that chilly morning. However, I was a nervous wreck who just survived breakneck speed through an extremely cramped space, so little time was spent admiring the view unfortunately. My next stop was a building called East Wintergarden, where the internet tells me was very near my current location, yet try as I may, I could not locate it. Luckily, a policeman on patrol was kind enough to point me to the building, which somehow materialized right behind me. I wheezed out a hurried thanks, and ran. I wasn’t late for the event, in fact I was two hours too early. It was the embarrassment that gave me my wings there.
My Arrival at Canary Wharf
As I entered the building, it was easy enough to find the registration counter where I was supposed to collect my name tag. The lovely lady behind the desk had trouble believing I was a finalist for the award, and shot me dirty looks when I produced my credentials. It wasn’t her fault either, the dress code for the event called for suits, mine was neatly tucked in my bags. Apologetically I took the tags, went downstairs and changed into my suit, then proceeded to parade myself in front of the registration desk, looking for redemption from the earlier encounter.
Fear not reader, sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me as well.
The event itself was an amazing affair. I soon met up with my fellow finalists whom I’ve previously acquainted with during the grueling interview sessions few months back. Contrary to the tense mood during the interview, here we met as old friends, laughing and retelling stories of our time during the award selection process. After all, we were survivors among 3,441 applicants from all over the UK. The 7 of us were among the shortlisted 117 students at the event today, and were exclusively from the Undergraduate of the Year Award for Innovation category, vying for the award that would grant one of us a nine-week paid internship in Deutsche Bank’s Technology Division. It was exciting as it was humbling, for I was in the presence of 116 elites from all over the UK.
From Left: Simon, Myself, Hannah, Adnan, Durshant, Joseph, and Deutsche Bank Representative Lauren Orme
After a hearty lunch, celebrity guest Konnie Huq was invited on stage to present the awards. She gave an inspiring speech about the power to change the world for the better being in our hands and urged us to work harder towards our goals. Then the moment of truth had arrived. The winner for the Innovation category was named to be Hannah.
The Closest I Will Ever Get To an Actual Celebrity
I was disappointed, sure, but deep in myself I knew Hannah was the perfect choice for the award. She had dozens of accolades to her name, and her academic as well as extracurricular achievements were off the charts. Needless to say, the guys and myself were extremely proud of her.
As I left the building that evening, slowly making my way to the train station to catch the next commute to Southampton, my mind could not help recounting the amazing experience we found ourselves in. I was happy, I was tired, but most importantly, for the first time in a long time, I was proud. I felt inspired, and I couldn’t wait to get back to work. Perhaps that was what I needed all along, a brief tear away from my projects and assignments, to tell myself that I’m worth something.
Yep, I needed that.
More Information Regarding the Award: