The following blog is from Let Us Learn campaigner Mariam. Here she describes the latest stage of our #younggiftedandblocked scholarships campaign, #mincepiefriday, held on Friday 2nd December 2016.
The day started off with everyone coming together with big smiles on their faces. It was action day! We were taking decorated Let Us Learn boxes of homemade mince pies to university heads. We wanted them to meet with us so we could show them what amazing students they are missing out on. I for one was jealous of all these vice-chancellors: they would soon be in the company of two or three lovely Let Us Learners and the mouth-watering mince pies.
Tension began to grow as everyone was assigned to a university. There were 24 of us travelling to 10 different universities across London. We all wanted to represent the campaign, and the many other young people who are blocked from university, to the best of our abilities. Zino gave a lovely speech which kept everyone at ease and ready for the day.
My #mincepiefriday partner Rhequel and I were very nervous and excited to be visiting Professor Julia Buckingham, vice- chancellor of Brunel University. After taking pictures with the group, we set off. This gave us time to go over the things we had practised with the group – what to say to the receptionist, for example, and how to explain who we were.
Rhequel and Mariam on #mincepiefriday
Our job was slightly more tricky because Brunel’s deputy vice -chancellor, Professor Andrew George, had already replied to our earlier letter asking for support for the #younggiftedandblocked campaign, saying that they wouldn’t be creating any new scholarships for the many Let Us Learners out there. We had all been very disappointed to receive this and were hoping to have the chance to change Brunel’s mind by paying a friendly visit.
When we first arrived, I was very nervous, but once I started talking, I became more confident and comfortable in what I was there to do. Unfortunately, Professor Buckingham was not in but we were able to meet with her PA who graciously accepted the mince pies on the vice-chancellor’s behalf. She seemed very interested in what we had to say and commended us on the work we were doing to help ourselves and other young people access education. This gave me a sense of appreciation for what we were trying to accomplish and I believe we made a friend in her.
Throughout the day we all kept in touch via social media (more photos here). Although no one actually got to meet their vice chancellor, some of the visits have resulted in meetings being set up for later on. Others Let us Learners were kindly given contact details which we hope will enable us to have a follow up discussion in future. We all felt we had accomplished something.
Coming together as one to fight a common cause was a victory in itself as well. This is the first action I have ever taken part in and I am very proud of what we have accomplished. Universities are starting to respond to us due to the campaign and hopefully this continues. This has prepared me for future actions to come. As a team, we can accomplish anything.
By Mariam Ajibola, age 19.