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


Victoria Azubuike

BSc Management
University of Warwick
Charity and Fashion

‘It is possible to do great things’. A mantra of self-belief drummed into a young Victoria has now become her life’s motto. As the eldest daughter of five and growing up on a council estate in North London, Victoria longed for female role models in her community whose achievements could match her ambition. Through her organisation, the US Programme, Victoria now provides role models for young black women across the UK.

The US Programme stemmed from years of working with and campaigning on behalf of young people in Islington. Armed with her mother’s support, Victoria knew that she wanted to make a difference from an early age. Her extensive experience as a volunteer, mentor and eventually a director of a youth club led Victoria to win the Islington Young Voice Award in 2012. Victoria continued to develop her experience and influence while sitting on Islington’s Youth Council for two years.

“I want to show others that it is possible to do great things.”

Victoria’s ambition extended to her school work. Unlike many of her peers, she set her sights on top Russell Group universities. Victoria performed well academically, but, unfortunately, she narrowly missed the A Level offer to study Management Studies at Warwick. As a result, she was placed on a Foundation Year prior to starting her undergraduate degree.

Victoria swapped her diverse and underdeveloped community in Islington for the leafy suburbs of Lemington Spa, with its overwhelmingly white and privileged population. Among the many contrasts, one difference was particularly pertinent to Victoria. She was struck by the sheer range of opportunities afforded to Warwick students in comparison to her friends back home.

“I knew I needed to share the opportunities I was exposed to with the people I knew from home.”

Victoria felt she had a responsibility to address this injustice by widening access to opportunity. Inspired by her brother Victor, who is a scholar on the Amos Bursary, which provides personal and professional development for young black British men, Victoria decided to set up the US Programme. The US Programme aims to educate and inspire young women aged 14-19 from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Programme was launched last year with funding from O2 Think Big, Linklaters, Waitrose and Lloyds TSB. Nearly 120 young women attended the first event, ‘She Who Develops,’ which focused on personal branding, networking and confidence building. The programme consists of personal development panel discussions with women from fields including medicine, media, law and business. The US Programme, still less than a year old, has been featured in both local and national newspapers, including The Guardian.

As a result of her success, Victoria has been asked to sit on the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board which looks after over 280 youth clubs in London. She has also spoken at a number of events including a recent All-Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image and Anxiety.

While balancing a degree and the US Programme, Victoria also runs a successful fashion blog called The Sister’s Wardrobe, which has been visited by readers from across the world. Victoria’s creative talent was recognised by industry experts and she has attended major events at London Fashion Weekend.

Victoria plans to continue developing the US Programme for the foreseeable future. Her ultimate aim? To provide young women from across the UK with the older, wiser sister she never had.

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