RARE  RISINGSTARS 2013 The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
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Daniel Stone Editor Rare Rising Stars 2013

A Star Returns


 

Daniel Stone


Editor Rare Rising Stars 2013
In 2010 I was privileged to be named the number one Rare Rising Star in recognition of my endeavours in student politics and social enterprise. It has truly been an honour for me to contribute once again to this incredibly important publication, albeit in a slightly different guise.

Rare Rising Stars is one of the most important things that we do at Rare, for the simple reason that achievement is contagious. Seeing the achievements of others challenges us; it makes us uncomfortable and causes us to demand more of ourselves and of those around us. Achievement is then liberating, the seed of future hope rather than just a celebration of accomplishments past.

However, if achievement is contagious, the sad truth is that the plague of underachievement can be even more potent. I was born and raised in an inner city area of Birmingham, where low aspirations and the expectation of failure covered the corridors of the mind like a fog. If achievement liberates us, I saw that underachievement brought for many a chain of complacency that reinforced stereotypes of limited opportunity and negative outcomes.

I found my freedom and my challenge at the age of 15 when I saw the dreaming spires of the University of Oxford for the first time. Eight years on, having achieved my dream of becoming the first person from my school to gain a place at Oxford, I now recall this story with fondness in my capacity as co-ordinator for Target Oxbridge. When I speak to students about the difficulties of going against cultural, social and peer group expectations in order to aspire beyond the ordinary, I do so from a heart that overcame these barriers and wants to give young people the power to do the same.

And so from this summer I will return to Birmingham to launch ‘The In Sight Project’. This programme will work within and across schools and communities in inner city Birmingham to help academically able young people make the most of their potential. I’m far from a Good Samaritan – I’d much prefer to help people take a road that steers them clear of robbers and bandits in the first place – but I have learnt the importance of using outstanding individuals as a catalyst to remind us of the vacuum that still remains between the world as it is and the world as it should be.

The Stars carry with them the hope articulated by Marianne Williamson, that in letting their own light shine, they have unconsciously given other people permission to do the same.