Mohammed Koubani attended Portland Place School between 2010-2015. He’s a second-year civil engineering student at Edinburgh University.
What have you been up to since school?
I studied maths, physics and economics at Portland Place Sixth Form. I am currently a second-year civil engineering student at Edinburgh University. Civil engineering suits my personality — it’s both mathematical and creative. Before that, I was at Surrey University. I had a great time at Surrey. I ran in elections; I was going to be in the Students’ Union. I was part of the civil engineering society. And I climbed Kilimanjaro. But I knew in the long run I would have a better future at Edinburgh; it’s one of the top-20 universities in the world and the fourth-best in the UK in my field. I thought that I shouldn’t put my short-term fun and cool experiences ahead of my long-term career. It was a big sacrifice that I felt I needed to make.
But without a doubt, it was the best decision I have made. I love the course. I have met some amazing people and the work ethic is so much more intense. I see myself having a better future with Edinburgh University.
What are your career plans?
I would like to become a structural engineer. My goal is to build a skyscraper; to create landmarks across the world.
What’s your best memory of Portland Place?
Going to the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, with the school. I was selected along with seven other students. It was an amazing experience. I was so inspired and became so much more ambitious because of it. It kind of shaped my goals too; I want to work somewhere in the humanitarian world alongside working as an engineer.
I also must give a shout-out to Mr Actor, a maths teacher. We had the best banter. I was very fond of him as a teacher. But I did not think his way of teaching suited me. However, if it was not for him I would have been hopeless at university. I came to see him when I was going to university and said sorry for all of the trouble I had caused while at school!
What’s the best part of university?
Everyone there wants to succeed. You open so many doors, more than you can think of. You meet so many amazing people. University is international — you will meet people from all around the world. It shapes you. It’s still shaping me and who I am. It’s making me become more ambitious. I can see myself becoming more successful because of university.
What advice do you have for Portland Place students?
Make scarifies to succeed at your A-Levels. Forget the social life. Forget trying to impress others and making friends. You will have your real fun at university. The hard work pays off. It is worth it.
And if you do go to university, don’t go with friends you already know. Open yourself up to new experiences. University is a place where you can meet new people, find yourself, change your mind-set and have different experiences.
Do you keep in touch with other alumni?
Yeah. Quite a few. I am in touch with about five friends from Portland Place. One is at a great university, UCL. Another is at Bristol. I don’t hold on to the past, and I like to make new friends at university, but it’s nice to come back home and catch up and reminisce about Portland Place. It’s a nice feeling.