Concord Alumni encourage more young black men to apply for Cambridge

Monday, May 8, 2017

Two former Concord students have appeared on a Cambridge University inspired Facebook post in a bid to encourage more young black men to apply for placements. Dami Adebayo, was Head Boy in 2014/15 and Jimi Babasola, was a student at Concord at the same time.

Dami and Jimi, who are both studying engineering at Cambridge, have appeared in a group photo of 14 black male students that has gained more than 2,000 Facebook likes.

The post on Facebook said:  “In 2015 only 15 black male undergraduates were accepted into Cambridge.  However, it is important that despite their underrepresentation we let young black people know that this is something that they can aspire to.”

Of 3,449 students accepted into Cambridge during the 2015/16 academic year, 38 defined themselves as black, a proportion of just over 1%.  This figure did not include any students who defined themselves on their application as mixed race.

Jimi said he wanted the image to challenge the ‘stereotype’ of a Cambridge student.  “The aim of the picture was really to encourage more black students to apply here because many people get discouraged by a particular image or stereotype of aCambridgestudent that they have in their mind, thinking that they won’t fit in or be accepted.”

He said he wanted to show others ‘there are people very much like them here and if we can get here, they can.’

Dami said there needed to be more black role models for men to aspire to.  “Barack Obama is probably the first black role model I had who made it ‘cool’ to be ‘book smart’ and that was by the time I was 11 – that’s crazy.”

Dami said he applied to Cambridge University because he ‘knew he was capable,’ but was unsure if it would be the ‘right place.’

“But with a mindset like that, these types of institutions will never be the right place for people like me.  Every student from a diverse background who applies and gets in here is a step towards changing that.”

Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, said the picture was ‘challenging’ the university to do more by mere fact that it showed how few black men were admitted to Cambridge each year.

“But just as importantly, it is telling other young black men that if they apply to Cambridge, and are accepted, there are others just like them who are already there.

“The subtext to the picture is that being a confident black man and being aCambridgeUniversitystudent are not mutually exclusive.”

Cambridge is one of 27 universities which are currently members of the Race Quality Charter – a scheme designed to address the representation of staff and students from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Said Concord Principal Mr. Neil Hawkins:  I am delighted that two of our alumni have had the strength to raise this very important matter with such dignity. 

“We all need role models in life and these young men are demonstrating that they have the character and integrity to lead along with the energy and sense of humour to enjoy life.”

Read more at the BBC website.

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