RARE  RISINGSTARS - The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
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Final Thoughts from Raph Mokades

Raphael Mokades
Junior Smart’s story is an extraordinary story. It sums up much of what is remarkable about Rare Rising Stars, and about the people we have celebrated over the last nine years. Junior has created real, quantifiable change. He has shown great resilience. He has shown imagination. He has shown humility. Above all, he has shown leadership.

I have been honoured over the last nine years to watch a generation of leaders like Junior grow in number, and in confidence, and in impact. From Junior’s work with gangs to Ndakuna’s work with infectious disease, from Femi Fadugba’s work in finance to Chibundu Onuzo’s writing, to the community activism of Daniel Stone and Tom Chigbo, it is clear that the black community in the UK – and globally – is blessed with an outstanding generation of young leaders.

And where leaders lead, others follow. We noticed something this year. More and more young people are saying that the goals they set themselves are not just for themselves – their qualifications, their careers, their families – but for others too. The old aspiration was to make sure that you and your dependents did as well as they could. The new aspiration takes in the wider community too. And I believe that it does that partly because of the Juniors and the Daniels and the Chibundus and all the other brilliant people who have set the standard for leadership and inspired others.

We see the same thing with Target Oxbridge. Six years ago, it seemed very risky to think that we might be able to set a programme up that actually helped more black people into Oxbridge. Today, the programme is proven to work, Oxford and Cambridge are official partners, and the question is just how big an impact can we have. The fact that these two ancient universities are sponsoring Rare Rising Stars as well as funding Target Oxbridge’s expansion makes it clear – the paradigm has shifted. What people believe is possible has changed. And changed for the better.

We are grateful to Oxford and Cambridge for their support. We are also grateful to corporate sponsors Slaughter and May and Thomson Reuters, who have both been associated with Rare Rising Stars for many years now. Finally a word of thanks to our four wonderful judges, and our brilliant 2017 editor Sarah Lusack.


Raphael Mokades
Managing Director