RARE  RISINGSTARS 2014 The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
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One year on

 
photo of Melvin Mezue
In our traditional feature, last year’s number one Star Melvin Mezue returns to give an update on his progress in the last 12 months, and explains why Rare Rising Stars holds a special place in his heart.

It was a great privilege to be named a Rising Star in 2013. The exceptional individuals I met at the ceremony have taught me much about the importance of passion and perseverance regardless of circumstances. And, more importantly, I have developed enduring friendships as a result.

Much has happened for me over the past year. I made a partial transition from research to clinical medicine, and expanded the scope of my entrepreneurial pursuits. In addition to Streamline Empire, the events and model management firm I co‑founded several years ago, I have recently started Idozi – a mobile‑based health venture empowering self‑management of non‑communicable diseases in the developing world. In only a few months, we have been able to garner support from a number of multinational organisations and have been invited to share our dream at Harvard University, London Business School and the Nigerian Parliament. I have also become involved in the Timbuktu Renaissance Action Group, which is commissioned by the Brookings Institute and leading Malian figures to promote the revival of Mali’s culture and heritage following recent sectarian conflict.

In the past year, I have been continually driven to push the boundaries of my own capabilities, partially inspired by the calibre of successes I was exposed to through Rare Rising Stars. I also find myself reflecting on some of the other brilliant individuals I have met who have not been recognised for their achievement. What was it about my achievements that drew more acclaim than theirs? I would like to share an insight that came to me as I cogitated on this question.

It seems that those who commended my achievements did so not simply for the endpoints I had reached, but for my approach to the difficulties I had faced on the way. Winston Churchill famously observed that “success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”; by this designation alone, I can certainly relate. After my first entrepreneurial incursion turned out to be an unmitigated disaster, my stubborn response was to carry the lessons from that into a more reasoned venture. This is just one of countless setbacks that I habitually encounter – so frequent they have become that, on the guidance of a friend, I now keep a book of failures to document them (I aim to add to the list on a weekly basis).

This publication celebrates the achievements of a remarkable group of individuals, but behind every name and list of impressive accomplishments is surely a comparable list of obstacles. We must therefore frame success in light of the character of these young men and women in persisting to achieve despite undeniable challenges. My prayer is that the various paths and obstacles which have propelled this year’s stars can, in turn, motivate readers (including me) to break new ground of their own.