RARE  RISINGSTARS - The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
rare logo
No. 2


Oluwasegun (Segun) Afolaranmi

MA Immunology
University of Oxford
Charity, Health and Medicine

Chiedozie Nwafor

Segun grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. He grew up in a traditional Nigerian family setting, as the youngest member of a large, extended family, but Segun spent most of his time with his mother and older sibling as a boy. Both his parents were petty traders, and Segun was the first in the family to attend university or study abroad.

Throughout school, Segun maintained an active extracurricular life and enjoyed participating in frequent public speaking competitions. He was so good at public speaking that during primary school, Segun was convinced that he would go on to become a lawyer. However, as school progressed, Segun discovered that he was more interested in Biology, and decided to pursue a career in medicine. Motivated by a desire to help people and use his love for science, Segun applied himself to his studies and completed school with top grades. He finished as best graduating student in his high school, securing all distinctions, as well as the best result in all Federal schools in the southwest Nigeria region.

Following high school, Segun opted to take A Levels in Biology, Physics and Chemistry at Ascending College, attaining all A*s, before starting his Bachelor of Medicine at the University of Ibadan. He graduated from medical school in 2019, achieving the top overall grade out of 110 students, and securing over 30 academic and leadership awards.

Beyond academics, Segun has an outstanding track record of leadership and social development. He is co-founder of The Ganglion Initiative, a youth-focused organization that seeks to improve access to quality education in Nigeria. Seeing that many of his younger colleagues were either not confident enough to apply to higher education programmes, or lacked sufficient guidance to do so, Segun and his co-founders decided to create something that addressed this shortage of careers counsellors and university admission services among public secondary schools in Nigeria. Founded in July 2017, the Ganglion Initiative has since secured NGO status and now operates in over 30 public schools. Through its volunteers, located across five states, the organisation provides career guidance, mentorship, and scholarship opportunities to approximately 8,000 students via workshops and talks. Volunteers come from major universities in every state: Ibadan, Osun, Ekiti, Edo and Lagos. Currently, they are working on a careers book and app to be launched later in 2021. The app is in its initial testing phase.

Segun co-organized the 2018 Federation of African Medical Students Association (FAMSA) General Assembly, where he served as the Vice-Chairperson. After attending the first African World Healthcare Symposium in Rwanda, Segun and his friends felt inspired to act against some of the region’s biggest healthcare challenges. Particularly alarming was the disproportionate rate of death from treatable cancers across African countries, and the extent to which African healthcare systems were dependent upon external help. Recognising the need for further conversation on these issues, Segun and his team brought together 600 students and 30 speakers from across Africa and beyond to a weeklong conference. They discussed the future of African healthcare, raising and effectively managing an $80,000 budget, and attracting the support of the WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Johnson and Johnson.

Following medical school, Segun was awarded a Clarendon scholarship for his current Masters studies at the University of Oxford, and in March 2021 he was named a Gates-Cambridge Scholar-Elect. His graduate research at both Oxford and Cambridge will find better ways to use the immune system to fight cancer, a challenging disease that disproportionately impacts Africans. Ultimately, Segun hopes to contribute to leading efforts aimed at expanding access to transformative cancer therapies in Africa, and alleviate the unacceptable disparities currently observed. He will begin a PhD at Cambridge in Cancer Immunology in October 2021.

<   >