22 February 2023

The Whiteley is the redevelopment of London’s first department store in Bayswater, known as Whiteleys, into a residential, retail, dining, and hotel complex, and the Scholarship is awarded by the Whiteley Community Foundation in cooperation with the University of Westminster. 

One Westminster scholar, who is either from a low-income household or originally from an area within a 0.5 mile radius around Bayswater, is chosen each year. Walaa Kalam was brought up in the local area, even visiting the old department store. 

Read Walaa’s interview with Whiteley Magazine below.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Walaa, I am 20 years old. I am studying Business Marketing at the University of Westminster. I studied Health and Social Care during my two years at Sixth Form. In my spare time I enjoy reading and researching cars. 

What do you love about Bayswater and Queensway? Where are your favourite places to go?

I think living in Bayswater/Queensway is genuinely one of the most diverse places in London. Queensway offers different possibilities and experiences for everyone to explore. For example, if you’re looking for a place to eat, you have a selection of different countries to indulge in. You have Banana Tree which has a menu from Pan-Asian countries such as Cambodia and Hong-Kong, Khans and Masala Zone are both Indian cuisines, Aubaine features delicate French food, Sanatori cooks classic Greek food, and the list goes on. I really think this is so special as you feel a sense of community and diversity. 

When my friends and I get together we tend to go bowling in Queensway. We can go as a big group, or a small group and we will always have fun and bond with each other. 

What is your favourite memory of Queensway?

As Hyde Park is around the corner we tend to go there often for walks, picnics and to feed the ducks. I enjoy those memories as they are calming, and I can re-live them every time I walk in Hyde Park. 

Why the University of Westminster? 

I decided to go to the University of Westminster as I found that it has a campus dedicated to the different business courses they provide. From speaking to other students and graduates I learnt that most tutor and seminar leaders have their own businesses and work for a wide range of high-end companies. When I heard that I knew that the staff were going to be extremely educated and would also share and link their experiences that they learnt from having their own business to what they teach. The marketing course content also really stood out to me, I felt like when comparing the course to other business schools it stood out and the modules were interesting and different. 

What are you studying? Why did you choose this subject? 

I am currently studying Business Marketing. Picking this course was a huge risk for me as I did not have a plan for my future education, and I was constantly changing my mind on what career I wanted to pursue. When looking at a potential course, I came across marketing. I did further research and found out that it is something I am interested in. 

How did you hear about The Whiteley Scholarship? What made you apply? 

I first heard about The Whiteley Scholarship from an email. When I read the email the first time, I ignored it because I knew that other people would apply for the Scholarship and that I was never going to be chosen. It was not until later that night that I was scrolling to see if I had new emails and the scholarship email showed up again; I clicked it and thought, ‘let me just try and apply’. Eventually after a couple of months I got an email saying I was invited for an interview. 

What was your first reaction when you found out that you had been awarded The Whiteley Scholarship? 

When I first got the call saying that I was awarded the Scholarship, I was speechless. I knew that this was a huge opportunity and it made me understand the importance of taking opportunities as soon as I see them. 

What does the Scholarship mean to you? 

This Scholarship is very important to me and my family. The cost of living is rising drastically, and it is getting harder to be able to pay bills, the Scholarship will help me ease financial stress off my parents. It will also assist me on buying textbooks for other resources I need in order to be able to graduate the top of my class. 

What are your aspirations? Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I hope to have graduated top of my course and be employed as the director of marketing at a high-end company. However, before I reach that stage, I hope to be able to mentor and guide year 11 and sixth form students on their future educational decisions and help them be comfortable in their path as I did not have that support. I would also like to be able to help charities around the world and raise awareness. 

Learn more about and make a donation to the Inclusive Scholarships at the University of Westminster.

This interview was republished with the permission of The Whiteley Magazine.