New Essex graduate named one of UK’s top black students

  • Date

    Fri 19 Jul 19

An inspirational Essex student has enjoyed a remarkable 36 hours, first graduating from the UK’s University of the Year, then being named among the country’s top ten black university students for 2019.

Olamide Odanye has been named a Rare Rising Star, in recognition of her extensive volunteering and mentoring work.

On Wednesday she celebrated graduating with a BA in Philosophy and Politics from Essex. The following evening, she joined her fellow Rising Stars at an awards ceremony in The House of Commons.

Olamide said: “I feel really excited to be named a Rare Rising Star, It was quite a shock to be named - my friend said she wanted to nominate me and I told her not to!

"In my head, I suppose I don't feel like an "award winner", so getting this recognition reminds me that what I'm doing is worth something and that I'm on the right path. I'm currently on the journey of discovering what's next!

"This award motivates me to continue the work we are doing at LIVE, as it is changing the lives of our young mentees."

Olamide moved to the UK from Nigeria aged nine. She began volunteering at 14, working in her local area to widen participation in sport. She has also worked with The Salvation Army and Samaritans.

Building on her experiences, she then co-founded LIVE (Learn, Inspire, Visualise, Elevate) with her friend Kike Adediji. LIVE is a mentoring programme for secondary school students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The organisation has received support from the O2 ThinkBig campaign.

Olamide is also an #IWill ambassador and has been appointed a Youth Policy Representative for the Department of Culture Media and Sport.

And despite all these commitments, she still found time to feature in the University's Essex Heroes campaign.

Dr Irene McMullin, from our School of Philosophy and Art History, said: “Olamide has been a wonderful student: smart, curious, and considerate. She is passionate about learning and sharing her questions and ideas with others. She has been a thoughtful participant in classes, working hard to understand different ways to address difficult questions. A rare rising star indeed!"

Rare Rising Stars, now in its 11th year, is an annual awards ceremony celebrating the UK’s top ten black African and Caribbean university students. The awards aim to share positive stories about black students, creating role models for future generations.

The awards were announced at an event in the House of Commons.This year’s judges include Kem Ihenacho, Sophie Chandauka, Tia Counts, Tom Chigbo, and Trevor Phillips OBE. The stars were selected from a shortlist of high achievers and marked against the following categories: determination, depth of achievement, breadth of talent, initiative and leadership.