Hi all! Welcome to the Generating Genius blog, where we will be sharing revision tips and success stories as well as our thoughts on current affairs and much, much more. As this is our first post, we thought we should tell you a bit (a lot) about Generating Genius and the people who made it all possible.
Generating Genius is a charity that works with underrepresented young people in higher education, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Their aim is to motivate and inspire 14 – 18 year- olds to pursue STEM subjects at school and ultimately consider careers in those fields.
The charity was founded by Dr Tony Sewell CBE, an educational consultant and published author, in 2005, as a project aiming to help Afro-Caribbean boys, then the UK’s worst-performing group of pupils, to do well in science. The original cohort was made up of 10 boys aged 12-13 who were selected, out of 200 applicants based off of their exceptional performance in their national curriculum tests (SATs) when they were 11. The size of the group soon increased to 40 pupils.
Their first activity was a trip to Jamaica, organised by Dr Sewell because he “wanted them to be in an environment where they could see scientists, policemen, prime ministers and university vice-chancellors who looked like them and had obviously succeeded.”
After returning to the UK, the boys were assigned mentors to help them with their studies. This is what makes Generating Genius stand out from other educational charities, rather than offering a sneak peek at what could be achieved, Generating Genius stays with you and supports you along your journey until the very end.
Dr Sewell’s method proved successful and 38 out of 40 pupils (95%) went to a Russell Group university to study a science-related degree with the other two studying Economics at LSE.
Over a decade later, Generating Genius mentors students of all BME backgrounds and genders from all over London. They are working closely with numerous big businesses including but not limited to Barclays, British Telecom and Google! The charity’s day to day operations are kept running smoothly by a group of highly talented individuals including the recently appointed Diector, Emmanuel Ayoola, a “young man with a passion for helping people realise their full potential.”
Emmanuel is very driven and devoted when it comes to building a sense of community and empowerment, having been President of the African-Caribbean Society at his alma mater, the University of Birmingham. He sees Generating Genius as a programme where students can “really aim high and not settle for the bare minimum because they’re around other students that are motivated and they realise that the world is bigger than your postcode.”
Generating Genius has been helping students to cultivate their talents and moulding them into independent young adults for 15 years now, giving us the necessary skills to go out and succeed in life. While the benefits for the students are clear, what does the Generating Genius team get out of it?
For Dr Sewell it’s “seeing the satisfaction of young people who [he] brought on to the program when they were 13-14 and are now doctors or engineers or researchers at universities and [he] just feel[s] that if it weren’t for the program, they probably wouldn’t be there.”
“I’ve seen a lot of success stories on paper,” Emmanuel said “but I think the key thing for me is being able to see the students that I recruited grow and mature in such a short space of time”
The love and dedication these men have for the program and the students who are involved is clear to see.
A very important part of the programme is making sure all students feel like everyone in the Generating Genius team has faith in them and only wants the best for them.
“I was turned around by the fact that older people believed in me, adults really believed in my talent,” Dr Tony said, reminiscing, “and that’s equally what we’ve got to do as older people, we’ve got to look to our young people as not negatives, but we’ve got to look at the potential within them and help them realise that.”
One key skill that Emmanuel wants all students to take away from the program is the ability
to take everything they are presented with, be able to stand up in front of a crowd and
proudly say “I’m going to show my stuff. You’re going to know that I’m here”
Students are given a voice through the Generating Genius programme and for that, I’ll
forever be grateful. Through initiatives such as debating events, work experience
culminating in a final presentation and even this blog group, GG students are given a chance
to express ourselves in a way that we may not get the chance to anywhere else.
– Siân Akua Woahene-Demehin