RARE  RISINGSTARS - The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
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No. 5


Isaiah Wellington-Lynn

BSc Anthropology
University College London / Harvard University
Academics and Business
Isaiah Wellington-Lynn

Isaiah is constantly redefining boundaries and making the most out of what some may consider limited resources. With his mother being his main source of inspiration, he has set his sights on cementing a legacy and living out a frequented household mantra “you may have limited resources, but you have limitless potential”. The list of accomplishments that Isaiah has under his belt is extraordinary and this is only the beginning. From crowdfunding his way to Harvard through his #StratfordToHarvard campaign, to endowing a scholarship to support primary school students, to founding a social impact venture for an international community of black techies while at Harvard, Isaiah has surpassed all his societal and educational expectations.

Isaiah grew up in a modest home in Stratford, East London, with his loving mother and pet cat, Mufusa. His mother kept him constantly occupied to ensure that his PlayStation had no other choice but to collect dust. She fully supported him through everything from foreign languages, to acting, and something that would later become one of his unique talents, basketball. He soon went on to excel in that sport, representing the London and England national teams and receiving invitations to the most elite tournaments in New York, North Carolina, and Miami. Sadly, his teachers throughout primary school and secondary school did not recognise his pluralistic intelligence and potential and often confined his talent to sports alone. One of many examples was when a teacher refused to predict Isaiah an A grade for A Level even though he was on track to achieve this, expressing that people from his background did not achieve A grades. As usual, Isaiah surpassed her expectations and was one of a few students to achieve an A grade.

“Some of my teachers didn’t believe in my potential based on the fact that I was a black boy growing up in Stratford.”

One of Isaiah’s most treasured memories throughout his gap year was his application to award-winning parking startup, JustPark. In mid-May 2015, Isaiah was relaxing at his friend’s house after a long shift at his part-time job, Hollister. His friend was making food, and in line with Isaiah’s innate and compelling curiosity, he spent the time researching different tech companies in London. Isaiah stumbled across JustPark and, enthralled with the company’s mission and culture, he decided that, against his friend’s advice, he would apply in a very novel way. He later went to his local shoe store, asked for a shoe box, took it home, wrapped it in wrapping paper, printed his CV, wrote a bespoke cover-letter, hand-wrote a note, and included a bag of sour-flavoured Skittles. He neatly packaged everything and spent three hours hand-delivering it to the company’s swanky Kentish Town office. Three years later, Isaiah is still remembered for the mark he left on the company as an intern, an experience that encouraged him to pursue his current adventure as a Product Design intern at Airbnb’s HQ in San Francisco.

After his gap year, he accepted his offer to study Anthropology at UCL where he really began to flourish producing critically original pieces of work and being voted as President of his JCR (Residents’ Club Committee), in his first year. He also pursued a series of spring weeks, landing multiple summer internship offers one year early from different investment banks. He spent that summer period interning at NYU and Columbia University in New York as part of the Amos Bursary Scholarship’s New York Experience, leading a team of 10 scholars in the city for 5 weeks.

That following year, Isaiah was appointed as the UCL J.P. Morgan Campus Ambassador. From 2016-2017, he was also the UCL Venture Capital Executive where he co-invested seed capital in innovative start-ups founded by UCL Entrepreneurs and interviewed start-up founders. His consistent academic and extra-curricular performance throughout his first two years, opened the door to a plethora of highly-sought offers from Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Chicago.

Isaiah had a scholarship to fund his time at Harvard; however, in the midst of exam season and preparing for his summer internship at J.P. Morgan, he found out that his scholarship had unexpectedly fallen through. Through sheer perseverance and impeccable time management having to balance his internship, he led a small team of his closest friends who all managed to create a viral crowdfunding campaign, #StratfordToHarvard, raising £64,000 in 4 weeks.

Since studying at Harvard, Isaiah has continued to excel. Within the first few weeks, Isaiah was appointed to represent Harvard at the Ivy League Council’s annual Leadership Summit, hosted by Princeton University. He also joined a startup on campus, The Unfiltered Network, and led the European expansion arm. Most recently, following a highly selective recruitment process, he pursued his interest in combining anthropology and tech and was selected 1 of 15 Design Fellows with the world-renowned venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers (KPCB) – KPCB received over 3000 applications for the fellowship. If that was not enough, Isaiah then secured a place as 1 of 140 interns at Airbnb in San Francisco out of over 31,000 applicants. Isaiah will spend the summer juggling his Airbnb community and his KPCB community; nonetheless, both cultivate environments for budding entrepreneurs to develop their technical engineering and design related skills.

He has gone on to found and co-direct the ‘Redefining Boundaries Fellowship’ with a friend at Harvard. This is a social impact venture which offers talented, inspiring, culturally conscious, and committed black techies from the US and the UK the opportunity to experience and craft the black presence in the tech industry. Isaiah and his co-founder just launched the inaugural fellowship which was composed of 50% men and 50% women, and 20% LGBTQ. Isaiah raised just over $10,000 in sponsorship and the 12 fellows lived in a house in Silicon Valley for 6 days. They visited tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Pinterest, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Twilio, and Isaiah plans to turn this into a black tech-focused VC firm.

Isaiah is a game-changer. The exciting thing is this is only the beginning. Isaiah is a role-model to those who have multiple dreams and ambitions and continues to mentor students at UCL, Harvard, and throughout his church. He has debunked the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ phrase and has shown that you can do everything you want to do to an exceptional standard. Isaiah is definitely one to look out for; we’ll be seeing his name in shining lights very soon.

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