Dr Parveen Azam Ali made history last week after she was appointed as the first-ever British Pakistani nursing professor.
She has been appointed at the University of Sheffield and Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS FT.
Dr Ali said: “I am quite pleased. It is nice to have achieved something not only for myself, but for the profession too.”
She was one of six recipients of the annual Mary Seacole awards from the Royal College of Nursing to fund her work to reduce inequality for black and minority ethnic communities.
According to the latest Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) statistics, there’s currently less than one percent of Black and seven percent of Asian professors.
On the lack of representation, Dr Ali said: “Achieving this sort of position is a huge achievement and responsibility at the same time. It provides an opportunity to be a role model and it gives people some sort of hope.
“We know diversity and having people from different backgrounds is always seen as useful, it enhances productivity and organisations. It improves how we provide education to our future generation. When you see faces like yours being successful, it gives people a push to work harder. If I can achieve it, you can achieve it too.”
Dr Ali’s advice to young people is hard work pays off: “Regardless of what discipline and field you choose to work in, choose what you are passionate about and make sure that you work hard to achieve it.
“Make goals and some achievable plans for your future for five to 10 years so that you know what direction you are going. Learn to reflect on your mistakes and your achievements. Learn from your experience to make you a better person and seek help from mentors that can help you achieve that.”
Looking into the future of the nursing profession, Dr Ali said: “We know without nurses no health care system can run, and I think it is time to tell people what nurses do, their potential and leadership. Not a lot of people know what nursing is about and there is a lot of misconceptions. We can attract good candidates to this profession and inspire them in what they can achieve.”