Undergraduate student Olamide Duyile has been named as one of 2019’s Top 10 Rare Rising stars at an annual awards ceremony celebrating the UK’s top black African and Caribbean university students.
Olamide, who studies Economic History at LSE, was recognised at the ceremony, run by graduate recruitment firm Rare, for her academic achievements and community work supporting college students in Hackney.
Olamide was nine years old when she first lost someone to knife crime and ten when she and her family were moved into witness protection. By the age of thirteen, she had been suspended twice from her school in Hackney and was facing permanent exclusion.
When her mother was suddenly hospitalised with a blood clot on the brain, Olamide was forced to stop and examine the direction of her life. As one of the older siblings in her household, Olamdie took on responsibility for the wellbeing of her Mum and younger siblings. She got her school work back on track and went on to achieve the highest GCSE grades at her school, winning a full academic scholarship to a top London private school.
By the summer of 2018, Olamide had grown increasingly frustrated with the number of homicides taking young lives in Hackney, whilst simultaneously hearing about the budget cuts to the education and youth services sector. From her own experience of both state and private schools, Olamide knew of the lack of opportunity and exposure to positive role models that exists for pupils in underfunded schools. To help redress the balance, she founded #MadeInHackney.
#MadeInHackney aims to help bridge the knowledge gap between less well-resourced state schools and private schools by offering relatable exposure to role models and personal development opportunities.
Olamide gives assemblies where she shares her life story. Through highlighting her successes and addressing her struggles, she encourages students to use their challenges to their advantage. She also offers coaching sessions, centred on practical skills and advice.
Since launching #MadeInHackney, Olamide has spoken to over 1000 students and aims to speak at every school in the London Borough of Hackney by the end of 2019. At LSE, she works with the university’s widening participation team to support college students from underrepresented backgrounds through events and mentoring.
Commenting on her award, Olamide Duyile said: “I wasn’t expecting to be nominated so I was surprised someone would even think to nominate me as one the UK’s top 10 students. When I received the award, it was less about being happy for myself and more about being happy that a young person out there, who may feel limited by their circumstances, can now read my story and know their situation does not have to predict their future.
“After I received a full scholarship to private school, I quickly realised a lot of bright students at state schools were suffering from a lack of knowledge of what was possible for their lives and what they could go on to achieve.
“At the same time, I realised a lot of young people from my neighbourhood were getting caught up in the wrong things because they couldn’t see past their circumstances. There was a grave absence of positive role models. I created #MadeInHackney as I felt compelled to do something about this. By the end of my time at LSE, I want to reach all the schools in Hackney through my work."