2. FUNMI ABARI, 22
School: University of Warwick
Course: English Literature (BA)
Grade Avg: 2:1
Mikai is extremely passionate about ensuring that more Caribbean students are represented at Russell Group universities, which led to her setting up CariConnect, a charity which aims to increase numbers through extra support and educational mentoring. Her motivation in launching this initiative stems from her own success at A-level, where she scored two As and an A*, grades which landed her a place at one of the best universities in the country. But once she got to university, she was disappointed to find that there weren’t more students like her – young people of Caribbean heritage. “[During college] I had always gotten certain comments from teachers such as: ‘Oh, I thought you were Nigerian’ or ‘I didn’t realise that Caribbean students did as well as you did’,” she says, “which didn’t really bother me until I got to university and found that I couldn’t relate to anyone.” Prior to officially creating the charity, she did some research on the issue, including checking out official figures, talking to schools and to her mother, who is a teacher, which all backed up the fact that things needed to improve. Then Mikai put together a team, delegating tasks such as PR and administration. In recent months, she and the CariConnect team have officially launched the charity at the offices of leading UK-based educational charity Teach First, reached out to schools to offer their services, and have secured some student mentors who will go into schools to work directly with students from September 2017. “I just want to help black Caribbean British students and build that bridge, so if they feel their teachers can’t help, we will help them to get to Russell Group universities such as Warwick, Cambridge, or Birmingham so they can actually make an institutional difference.”
Mikai is also a keen YouTuber, building up a subscriber community of over 11,000. This is another platform that she uses to be a role model and inspire both peers and those younger than her, by discussing topics such as education, relationships, family, mental health issues, issues affecting the black community, her Christian faith and beauty from her own personal and refreshingly honest perspective. Some of her most popular videos are about her university experience where she talks about the realities of life at a Russell Group University. In August, Mikai posted a documentary she had been working on titled Pray and it Will Go Away, which explores the taboos of addressing mental health within the young black community. Mikai is also the Event Co-ordinator of Warwick’s Anti-Racism Society and has planned a number of debates centered on topics such as intersectionality and social theories. Prior to this she was held the same role at Warwick’s Flow Society, which involved liaising with the student union and external parties to book spaces for shows. She also used social media as an outlet for performers as well as to raise awareness about what was then a new society. In one year, the Flow Society attracted over 150 members and collaborated with multiple cultural societies in Warwick.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? As a world-renowned documentarian and with CariConnect having branches all over the world and links to the University of the West Indies