One of the most wonderful things in life are the people we can meet. The interactions with them that shape us while we grow, mould us into the people we want to be and help us reassemble when we change our direction. And speaking with students and parents at the Year 13 graduation made clear to me how vital it is to take opportunities presented to us by the people we meet.

The year 13 graduation was a lively day. Everyone entered the door with a smile on their face and an aura of ease around them. But what more could you expect? The stress of exams and applying to Uni is finally over. So with that in mind, Thursday was an evening for celebration. An evening to reminisce about the past years. And listen to inspiring key speakers, while networking with professionals and alumni alike. 

While mingling around, I had the opportunity to interview some of these amazing students and parents that were a part of this cohort. This gave me the chance to learn more about their journey through the programme, the challenges and lessons they’ve learnt as well as more about the charity and the wonders it has done for them.

Talking to the students, made it evident that these former year 13’s were an ambitious, motivated and high achieving set of young people. From aspiring Mechanical Engineers to students going on to study Law and Medicine at Russell Group Universities. And these great feats were made possible through the determination and hard work put in by these young adults, but also through the huge amount of help that the Generating Genius team gives. Which one student rightly called them out for being “underpaid despite the amount of work they do.”

One key message that repeatedly came up in my conversations was the shout outs to the team. The humongous amount of “thank you’s”, gratitude and heartfelt words of appreciation. For the CV workshops, networking events, unique opportunities, presentation and life skill sessions: for all the support, comfort and advice, as well as the chance to travel around London and other cities while being exposed to new experiences.

So there is no denying it, Generating Genius is a fantastic charity. It allows remarkable people to meet like-minded individuals and learn more about what they are capable of. It is a charity that students said provided them with a place to “grow as a person while having fun.” It provides an environment tailored towards “raising a generation of STEM leaders” primarily for African and Caribbean students who are perpetually underrepresented within the STEM industry. 

But more than that, Generating Genius is a family. A large, supportive group of individuals that care deeply. It is filled with people both young and old. Students, parents, alumni and staff. All-encompassing the same belief, the same desire to remind us, black students, that we can do it. Be it through work experience, mentoring sessions or university visits, that motivate and inspire us. And let us geniuses know that we belong.

by Niambi Bertie-McLean