Chalmers alumni Abhilash ”Abhi” Ram was honored with a Global Swede Award by the Swedish Minister for Trade, Ewa Björling.
The award is for international students who have made a lasting impact on issues related to innovation and entrepreneurship.
Abhi received his diploma at a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm on May 12.
”I felt as though I was getting a prize for my smile,” he says.
Abhi has made an impressive journey during his lifetime. While his friends remained in India, he chose to pursue Masters studies at Chalmers. In parallel with his studies in the Microtechnology Master’s program, he became involved with the Chalmers International Reception Committee, Circ, making sure that new international students get off to the best possible start with their studies.
Important to student recruitment
International student recruitment at the university is a matter close to Abhi’s heart, and he is currently working as a project assistant at Chalmers Communications and Marketing department. Here, Abhi continues to be a vital part of the important recruitment efforts.
His dedication and talent have now been recognized by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has appointed Abhi as one of this year’s 21 recipients of the Global Swede Award, an award being distributed for the fourth consecutive year as a part of efforts to encourage and reward international students who choose to come to Sweden to study.
”It’s a fantastic feeling, and totally unreal. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could win the Global Swede of the Year Award. I remember hearing about another prizewinner a year or two ago and thinking, ‘Oh, she must be very smart and very enterprising to manage to win such a great prize’. And now I’m standing here myself as one of 21 prize winners and part of a crowd of perhaps 100 people who have received the award,” said Abhi.
First shock – then pride
His first reaction to the news was shock. This was followed by slight embarrassment, excitement and pride. Embarrassment that he – in his own eyes – had undeservedly been nominated by Chalmers. Excitement about the possibilities brought about by the nomination. And proud to have been chosen.
On May 12, Abhi was on-site at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm to receive his award straight from the hand of Minister for Trade Ewa Björling:
”I was standing there in a room filled with dignitaries, employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish Institute, proud guests, parents, and the 20 additional winners, whom I thought much more deserving of the prize than I am because of the things they had achieved or their high intellectual capacity. Standing in the same room as them filled me with great humility,” he says.
At the same time, he felt a deep gratitude:
”I realized that the prize was not recognition for any medals I won in a contest, good grades in school or an invention I’d come up with. It was a recognition of my positive outlook and my efforts. My smile had simply been rewarded with a prize, that’s how it felt. And it was a prize very few before me had received.”
Starting a network
Abhi also believes that being appointed as a Global Swede comes with a certain responsibility. There are rules he must abide by, goals to try to achieve, and many challenges. Still, he will do his very best to meet and surpass these challenges.
”I’ve already started a network among this year’s winners. The winner from the University of Gothenburg – Hadeel – and I are planning to establish an alumni network for all recipients of the award. And we are discussing the possibility of raising money for the flood victims in Serbia together with the Red Cross,” says Abhi.
He sees the award as an acknowledgment that his own attitude to life works: what you give, you get back.
”All people have concerns, and I have always strived to remain positive in my heart. But this prize is of course much more than that. A Global Swede has a responsibility to strengthen Sweden’s trademark, both abroad and here at home. In Sweden we rarely hype anything and devalue the brand. As prizewinners, I believe we can help the Swedes see their own greatness.”
A warm reception
He speaks vividly and enthusiastically about the ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 12. Abhi had arrived in Stockholm the day before with his parents, who traveled from India to visit their son in Sweden.
They were very well taken care of by the ministry, and enjoyed listening to the speech by Minister for Trade Ewa Björling, Swedish Institute Director General Annika Rembe and Hannah Akuffo from Sida. Also in attendance was Chalmers Deputy Communications Director Anna Näsbom who read Abhi’s official nomination text.
Each winner received a diploma from Ewa Björling, and a gift from Annika Rembe.
”I was too nervous to listen to the motivation, so I tried to have a little fun with the Minister and say that maybe none of it was true,” says Abhi.
After the ceremony and a final photo shoot, all participants were treated to lunch in the adjoining hall. Many pictures were taken and memories were created for life. The award winners also took the opportunity to take selfies with the Minister and the others in attendance.
”The food was amazing, but I was more interested in networking. I went around to get the contact details of all the winners. I want to start a group on Facebook where we can continue to discuss and exchange ideas with each other,” says Abhi.
Text: Michael Nystås
Photo: Karin Nylund, Government Offices of Sweden
Abhi’s nomination text >>>
Force and creativity are two characteristics that come to mind when thinking of Abhilash – he
energises and stimulates his environment with his positive and reflective approach. Whether he
is involved in language cafés, choirs, music, international reception committees or any other of his initiatives, it is always with a smile and determination. As a student, he is always top rank and contributes to the team effort of his Chalmers class. In his contribution to Chalmers international student recruitment, he is equally engaged and is a skilled ambassador for Sweden, Chalmers and global networks – and not least for himself.
The Global Swede diploma ceremony recognizes foreign students who have studied at colleges or universities in Sweden and distinguished themselves in areas related to innovation and entrepreneurship. The hope and the idea behind the concept is that students in the future will both be good ambassadors for a positive image of Sweden and serve as key contacts for Swedish industry in the world.
See more pictures from the awards ceremony >>>
Read previous post about Abhilash >>>