I owe a great deal to the Amos Bursary and the support network it has provided me with over the last four years. When I joined the Amos Bursary back in 2008, I wasn’t quite sure what it would provide me with. I was selected by my Head of Sixth Form as a candidate so I applied as it sounded like a unique opportunity. I was then selected for an interview which was conducted by Yane and Desiree and I told them why I should be chosen as part of the first cohort of Amos Bursary students. They must have seen something in me as I was selected to my delight. Little did I know that the bursary was, in fact, much more than a ‘bursary’. Sure, the financial support is helpful as studying in London is not cheap but I gained so much more from being part of the scheme. I attended events that I never thought I’d be able to go to in venues which I had only heard or read about (House of Lords, Albert Hall, City Hall). I was thrust in front of large audiences expected to address large groups of people which, looking back, has developed my self-confidence and ability to hold my own with esteemed company.
I have learnt the art of networking at a variety of events and have comfortably liaised with people I had watched on television. I have met and made friends with an amazing group of young men who, like me, aspire to be successful in life which has created a brotherhood of support that is unique in our community. I was assigned a peer mentor, Ashley Horsford, who has been the most influential in my development in the three years we have known each other. He was my tutor when I started university and guided me through the difficult first year of assignments and helped me understand what I needed to do to be a success. He was a confidant when I had any personal struggles and always balanced his serious advice and guidance with friendly chat and we have become good friends as a result.
Ashley also provided me with internships through his contacts at FourFourTwo magazine and Channel 4 which was a great help as I continue to write for FourFourTwo as a freelancer and I learnt a great deal during these placements. He would ask if I needed help with anything and was quick to answer my calls or emails whenever I required assistance with anything, however menial. Ashley also allowed me to make mistakes and come to my own conclusions which I believe is essential to the growing-up process. He would never impose his opinions on me, but just gently push me in the right direction. He is a godsend. I thank you Ashley for your continued support and guidance in this time and you’re my sounding- board for life now. You’re stuck with me.
I was the only Amos Bursary student without a professional mentor after a misunderstanding and poor communication led to my professional mentor Funmi Ade deciding to drop out of the bursary. I would like to also thank Funmi as I learnt a lot from that experience and have become a better person as a result. Despite the understandable drop in university applications of late, I feel going to university is essential if you want a head-start in life as wherever you go professionally, you’re asked about your studies. Of course there are people who have been successful without going on to higher education, but in the main it is an opportunity to specialise in something and become somewhat of an expert in it. Even if you eventually fall into another career, the skills and knowledge gained from your course will stay with you without you realising it.
I should probably tell you that I am writing this article as I am now at the other end of the Amos Bursary production line. I have been groomed and styled by the Amos Bursary and I have been hired as Copy Editor of Gulf News, the largest selling newspaper in the Middle East. I am in charge of the Sport and World News supplements and am based in Dubai, UAE . I had three interviews in Dubai; one with the Human Resources manager, one with my section editor and lastly with the Managing Editor of the newspaper. All three interviewers were surprised that somebody so young had been able to gain so much experience and they didn’t hesitate in making me the youngest member of the Gulf News team. I have always wanted to live and work in the Middle East and with the current state of the newspaper industry in the UK, I felt if I didn’t take this opportunity now, I never would. I was eventually offered two jobs by Gulf News and I paid homage to the bursary in my interview as they were surprised as to my experience, confidence and maturity – all which were developed by the Amos Bursary. My dream in 2008 was to study Journalism at City University and become a journalist. Thanks to the Amos Bursary, my dream is now my reality.