RARE  RISINGSTARS 2014 The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
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No. 6



BSc IT Management and Business
University of Greenwich, Medway
Social Enterprise
Ré Phillips

Born into poverty in the Jamaican countryside, the future seemed bright when Osheane arrived here with his mother as a baby. However, his father was unable to secure the correct immigration papers for his young family. What started out as a dream move quickly turned into a nightmare. A two‑week official stay became a sixteen‑year game of cat‑and‑mouse between Osheane’s family and the immigration authorities.

The pressure soon contributed to the break‑up of his family; the insecurity and very real threat of deportation – his aunt was in fact deported – meant that Osheane and his mother moved house at least once a year and usually more often, staying with family and friends and not having a home of their own. His mother was unable to get a job or receive any benefits.

Unsurprisingly, Osheane was a troubled child: when he set the home alight, aged 5, his mother was too afraid to call the Fire Brigade and borrowed a neighbour’s hose instead. He later began hanging out in the wrong company and was excluded twice from school, where he was never able to fully engage or to go on school trips.

The turning point was when a teacher told him that he would never go to university. He had two options – accept the teacher’s judgement or set about proving her wrong.

Thankfully, he opted for the latter and, from that day forward, left no stone unturned in his quest for personal, academic and professional success.

"Do something today that your future self will thank you for."

In one episode, having decided that he wanted to work in banking, he spent days in the foyer at Barclays’ offices in Canary Wharf and cold‑contacted over 400 Barclays employees – LinkedIn even threatened to block his account! Undeterred he continued until two people eventually responded: the first told him to go away; the second replied with the words ‘God Bless’. The same person eventually organised work experience at the bank for Osheane, and he has now secured a place on a Barclays mentoring programme.

He now runs BAME career events in conjunction with Barclays Corporate as part of his university society, ‘Greenwich and Kent Bright Futures’. He has also set up three organisations: one helps international students to adapt when they arrive in the UK, the second teaches IT skills to the over 50s, and the third, ‘Deptford’s Got Talent’, showcases the abilities of young people in the local area whilst fundraising for good causes.

"I never thought, as an immigrant, I would achieve this much. Many immigrants can’t let their talents show. They have to hide because they are afraid of the consequences. Now I’m just taking things day by day."

Osheane hasn’t forgotten his roots though. He is Vice Chair of Jamaicans Inspired, which funds trips and employability events for young members of the Diaspora, and he also sits on the Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board. His continuing work testifies to his focus on the betterment of others in his community, and he has already proven himself to be a genuine leader in that regard.

The future looks set to be even brighter for Osheane, and for anyone lucky enough to come into contact with him.

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