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Empowering Women: How the Aurora Advance Programme Reignited my Strength and Purpose as a Female Professional in Higher Education

Author: Estela Papagianni

Life has a way of throwing unexpected challenges our way, many times leaving us feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. In the past year, I faced the loss of my father and the transformative experience of becoming a first-time mother, which have completely turned my world upside down. It was during this tumultuous period that I was selected to participate in the Aurora Advance Programme, which subsequently became a guiding light reminding me of who I am and reigniting my motivation to pursue my goals and professional advancement.

Through tailored initiatives, such as mentorship programmes, skill-building workshops, and networking events, the programme created a nurturing space where I connected with like-minded women who understood my struggles. It was comforting to know that I was not alone in my experiences. Through interactive workshops, I gained invaluable insights and practical tools to navigate the challenges I faced. The mentorship component played a crucial role in offering guidance and continuous support, helping me find my footing amidst the uncertainty. Most importantly, the Aurora Programme reminded me that becoming a mother did not mean that I had to forget my individual dreams, aspirations and professional potential. The programme encouraged me to redefine my goals, align them with my newfound role as a mother, and pursue them with new determination.

As I continue my journey, I am grateful for the Aurora Programme and the empowering community it has given me access to. It serves as a reminder that as women we have the power to overcome any challenge that comes our way and that we deserve and can achieve our dreams. Let us embrace programmes like Aurora Advance, which celebrate our unique journeys and uplift us to reach greater heights. Together, we can create a world where women are empowered, confident, and unhindered to meet their goals.

Read more about the Aurora Advance Programme on Advance HE.


Estela Papagianni is a dedicated project manager with a strong background and experience of more than 14 years in research management within the HE sector.

As an ARMA UK member, she has managed over 200 EU projects and 400 National Agreements.

While pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering and Informatics, she is serving as project manager for “Project dldl/ድልድል” and various other impactful projects funded by ERCEA and UKRI at SOAS University of London. These include: “African Screen Worlds”, “Global Comparative Ethnography of Parliaments, Politicians and People“, “The Hatha Yoga Project” and “ASIA Beyond Boundaries.”

Read more about Estela here.