Our class of 2021 really are something to shout about. They’ve overcome challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done it all during a pandemic when student life has been changed beyond recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of them so we’re telling their stories.
Mon 15 Nov 21
Malik Mikel came to Essex with a clear goal in mind – to exceed in his law degree so that he could pursue his life-long ambition of becoming a judge. And not only did he achieve a First, but he was also a student ambassador, had a petition to the US government signed by 17,000 people, produced a TEDx talk, and played for the university football team.
“I have so many proud moments from my time at Essex,” he said. “From achieving a first-class honours degree to being a student ambassador to playing for the football team. I represented the University in gaining selection for the England University Football Team.”
Malik won two academic prizes for his achievements: the first was the Sweet and Maxwell Prize for graduating as the highest achieving LLB student; the second was the University of Essex Jurisprudence Prize.
“I am very proud of these awards,” he said. “I am also proud of winning two sporting awards. The first was the full colours award for my exceptional services to sport for the men’s football first team, and the second was the Tony Rich outstanding sporting achievement award.”
Born in Jamaica, Malik moved to the UK when he was a child and said it was this experience in his earlier years which made him want to be a lawyer.
“As a Jamaican-born Black man growing up within the conservative county of Kent, I was subjected to copious amounts of racism and discrimination at a young age. Growing up within a socially conscious household inspired a holistic perspective on the world and the many injustices.
“I believed that one day, through my role as a lawyer and eventual judge, I could make a first-hand impact on the world. I could be the change that I so wanted to see.”
Malik chose to study at Essex due to the strong remit in human rights law and the fact that The University had “previously received glowing recognition from the late great Nelson Mandela”.
Malik is keen to share his ideas and knowledge. In his second year, he presented a TEDx Talk, called The Art of Fear: Fact or Fiction? which was uploaded to the TEDx YouTube channel. And last year, in the wake of the protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, he put forward a petition to the US government.
“During the protests I felt a sense of hopelessness for the grave injustice that had occurred,” he said. “I researched for 24 hours straight trying to apply my legal knowledge to see areas which could be improved to prevent such injustices.
“I started a petition to Congress for review and repeal of Police Union Contracts. These contracts serve as barriers to police officer accountability, and ultimately barriers to justice in cases of police brutality.”
Malik’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is also reflected closer to home. As well as being a student ambassador, he was involved in peer mentoring programmes and with the Essex Law Clinic. As a student ambassador he enjoyed helping with the undergraduate law applicant day, giving tours and presentations to prospective students.
“I had been in that exact position, receiving the same presentation, when I was a prospective applicant to the University of Essex,” he said. “To see it come full circle was satisfying and inspiring.”