RARE  RISINGSTARS - The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
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photo of Mariel Orford-Hall

The past six months have been long. By turns, 2021 has felt never-ending, suspended, hopeful, frustrating and sometimes devastating. We have grappled with chaotic tiers, ongoing uncertainty, picnics in the rain and the ennui of life under yet-another-lockdown. Mostly, it has just been exhausting. Yet throughout it all, we have endured. We have not only survived but we have thrived, and it is in this vein of drawing strength in crisis, forging on and regenerating, that I am proud to present to you this year’s publication.

This theme of regeneration seems entirely fitting as we reflect upon the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death, and its material impact upon Black communities, in reigniting questions of justice, equality and our common humanity. It is equally evoked by the vaccine rollout, and those who have worked so tirelessly to sustain our NHS throughout this difficult period. We have not only built back from the depths of this pandemic, but emerged stronger than ever, more reflective and compassionate, with a greater understanding of what it means to be human. Indeed, we have all learnt what it means to truly ‘regenerate’.

Each of these individuals have contributed to the regeneration of their communities in different ways. In compiling their stories, I have been privileged to document their resilience, passion and unyielding force for good. It is my hope that reading these accounts of Black excellence provides some much-needed joy in these unfamiliar times and inspires future generations of Black students to pursue their dreams.

Now in its thirteenth year, Rare Rising Stars continues to shine a light on the most talented, inspirational Black students in the UK. We are delighted that previous Stars have become best-selling authors, CEOs, Olympic medallists, award-winning podcasters, musicians, influencers, activists and more. This year’s Stars draw from a diversity of fields, spanning youth activism, social entrepreneurship and public health to business and educational access.

This publication has come together thanks to the efforts of a brilliant team. I would like to thank Puneet Tahim for all the support she provided throughout the entire process. I would also like to thank Maxine Monu, for her gift with words, and our designer Sasha Djukicin, for bringing together such a stunning visual publication. To our judges, Kem Ihenacho, Sophie Chadauka, Tia Counts, Jean Tomlin and Tom Chigbo, thank you for taking the time to help select this year’s stars. Finally, I would like to thank our sponsors, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Oxford, for making these awards possible year on year. It is humbling to work with such an incredible group of people.

Mariel's signature
Mariel Orford-Hall
Business Development Executive & Editor of Rare
Rising Stars 2021