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Manchester High School for Girls

Iqra Ashraf

Iqra Ashraf, Class of 2009, is currently a Doctor in the NHS

What was your experience at Manchester High like?

I look back on my time at Manchester High very fondly. It was an important period of personal development for me and I honestly do not feel that I would be in the position that I am today were it not for attending Manchester High. I formed robust friendships and developed important life skills in a supportive, caring community. 

How do you feel it helped to shape the person you are today?

My time at Manchester high was instrumental in transforming me from a shy, hesitant girl into the outgoing, ambitious individual that I am today. The ethos and the supportive environment of the school encouraged me to work hard, step outside my comfort zone and to dream big.

Were there any teachers who made a particular impression on you?

I looked up to many of my teachers. Mrs Bennett was my physics teacher for six out of the seven years that I studied the subject. She was one of my favourite teachers for her cheerful personality and never-failing enthusiasm for teaching her subject. Mrs Roberts taught me French for a number of years and instilled a love of languages in me. She is one of the main reasons that I was inspired to study a language alongside my medical degree. 

What did you do after Manchester High? Tell us about your journey in your own words.

After completing my A-levels, I studied Medicine with European studies (French) at The University of Manchester. This involved attending French lessons and completing French exams alongside the medical course, and gave me the opportunity to undertake some of my undergraduate placements in France. I spent one month in the Paediatrics A&E department of the University Hospital in Montpellier in my third year and subsequently spent four months living and working in Paris in my final year. The latter experience especially helped me to hone my language skills and improve my command of the French language. Since graduating from medical school in 2014, I have continued to undertake my postgraduate training in the North West. Having completed my postgraduate exams, I am currently working at Wythenshawe hospital and will hopefully be applying for a dermatology registrar training post this year. In addition to my clinical commitments as a doctor in training, I am in the final year of completing a part-time Masters (MSc) in Medical Education at The University of Manchester. I am also the North West regional representative of the Royal College of Physicians Trainee committee and have recently taken on a role as an ambassador of SKCIN, a national skin cancer charity that aims to raise awareness of skin cancer through education, promoting prevention and early detection.

  What advice would you give to girls considering your path?

To work hard but also ensure that you develop interests and a life outside of studying as Medicine is a challenging career path. Also, take opportunities to gain experience in the field where you can and ask plenty of questions!

Who are your role models?

My parents have been and continue to be important role models for me in their own respective ways. I have also had the fortune of meeting and working with an eminent professor of Dermatology who has inspired me with her kindness and academic accomplishments.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I hope to eventually qualify as a consultant dermatologist with a subspecialty interest. Subspecialities that currently interest me are skin cancer, photodermatology and cosmetic dermatology. I also have a strong interest in medical education and hope to use my masters degree to inspire and enthuse the new generations of doctors through taking on a key role in medical education. Outside of Medicine, I would like to spend more time travelling, master more languages and to be able to effectively balance my professional commitments with my personal life.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I enjoy the challenge of learning foreign languages and travelling. I am currently aiming to master the Arabic language and British Sign Language. I also have a keen interest in fashion, the arts and food.

What achievements are you most proud of in life?

My biggest achievement to date from a professional perspective has been giving an oral international presentation which I delivered to a room full of international photodermatology experts at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Conference in Paris last year. I won a scholarship to attend this conference and also presented two poster presentations at the event.

I am particularly proud of this achievement because I worked hard to prepare for this in the run-up to my wedding and was the most junior presenter in attendance.
Delivering this presentation also marked a personal milestone for me. As someone who found public speaking very challenging during my school years, to be able to present to a hall full of experts and receive extremely positive feedback was a remarkable achievement.