In spite of the Milburn report’s finding that “there [were] more young men from black backgrounds in prison in the UK than there are UK-domiciled undergraduate black male students attending Russell Group institutions”, James has not only attended Russell Group universities himself (Imperial Business School and King’s College London), but he also works relentlessly to make access to these institutions more equitable.
Since 2015, after joining King’s College London (KCL), James began to feel strongly about the number of British students of Caribbean descent who were attending KCL and knew it needed to be addressed. He established a relationship between the Amos Bursary and KCL. This relationship birthed the first conference at King’s specifically for Year 12 African & Caribbean students and their parents/carers. In 2015, they attracted 60 attendees. That number has since grown 600% over the last 5 years. At the most recent conference, close to 400 young people signed up with over 20% having Caribbean heritage.
At KCL, he has been a Widening Participation and Access to Medicine ambassador where he has delivered sessions for students in Year 4-13 that have ranging abilities and varying backgrounds. He also interned in the Widening Participation department for 2 months where he planned and delivered residential summer schools for over 500 students, as well as contributing to the university’s BME strategy which, as a result, now has specific targets for low income Black Caribbean students.
As a result of his commitment and the quality of his delivery, his current role – African & Caribbean Student Lead – was created in the department. This role gives him the flexibility and autonomy within the university to create events and initiatives specifically aimed at targeting low income African & Caribbean students. More specifically, James has been able to help develop the first-ever 2-year programme specifically aimed at black students. With a budget, they have been able to offer tailored tuition, mentorship, exposure to a range of Russell Group universities and soft skill development to enable these students to fulfil their academic potentials.
Outside of his KCL commitments, he also sits on the board of governors for a secondary school, as well as the Learner’s Welfare sub-committee and the disciplinary committee. As the youngest governor at the school, this role allows James to offer an important perspective that supports the holistic development of the students, as well as ensuring the school is making the necessary provisions to support Special Educational Needs students and Caribbean boys.
Additionally, he co-founded the Ladder Project CIC which is a social enterprise that aims to tackle the skills gap that disproportionately affects people from BAME and lower socioeconomic backgrounds by holistically support all students to leave school with the skills required to navigate further study and the world of work. Additionally, to help offset the impact of COVID-19 The Ladder Project partnered with Imperial College London to put together a summer school to support 36 students by providing over 75 hours of additional maths and science tuition for free.
As well as the roles aforementioned, James is also serving as the only external member of Imperial College London’s inaugural Black Students Advisory Panel where he lends his specific expertise on initiatives to engage hard to reach low-income Caribbean students. As a panel, they contribute to Imperial’s long term strategy for the recruitment and retention of black students.
Lastly, but by no means the least, James sits on the Youth Advisory Council for the Foundation for Education Development (FED). In his role, he helps provide insights and uses his expertise to contribute to FED’s goal to shape the future of the British state education system in a way that is beneficial to all young people.
For James’ consistent dedication over the years, he has been recognised as one of the most outstanding students in the UK by Future Leaders, Rare Recruitment and The Association of Jamaican Nationals, as well as recognition awards from the Amos Bursary, KCL and KCL Student Union. Most recently, he was awarded the Akindolie Medical Scholarship and the prestigious Princess Diana Award for his commitment to serving young people.