2. FUNMI ABARI, 22
School: University of Leeds
Course: Medicine (MBChB)
Grade Avg: 2:1
First degree: Chemistry with Biochemistry (BSc)
School: Queen Mary, University of London
Grade: First class
Four years ago, Funmi’s two younger sisters were at primary school preparing for their SATs exams, and she noticed they weren’t being taught any sciences as part of their revision. After doing some research she found that the Government had enforced changes in the curriculum which meant that only certain schools were being selected to sit the science SATs. She also found that a lot of the schools in the most deprived areas were the ones not being chosen, including her sisters’ school in Tottenham. Based on this and not wanting her sisters to miss out, she started to look for a science club for them, and when she wasn’t able to find one, she started her own – a social enterprise called The Institute of Mad Science (TIMS) (timsnetwork.org.uk) Putting this together involved creating an entire curriculum, finding volunteers, a space, and leading the sessions herself – all during her second year of university. “It was really exciting but I recognised that I needed an opportunity to grow,” Funmi says, “so I partnered with a charity called Kori Arts who have a base in Wood Green and started the science club there, while working with the charity doing youth co-ordination, helping out in the office, doing training with other members of staff.”
She was able to raise £11,000 to fund the project from different organisations (including O2 Grant and Unltd) and different charities (such as Wide Horizons) as well as receiving venue support from the local council. About 40 kids between the ages of 7-11 turned up to the launch of the club, and it ran weekly at a cost of £7 per child. The club also put on trips and events which were free for young people.
Later on, Funmi recruited a team of nine ambassadors to further support the project, which allowed for other activities to take place, such as a residential programme for young people, which she organised and led. Off the back of this, Funmi has also worked as a private tutor, offering Maths, Chemistry and Biology tuition for all ages up to A-Level, which she does both in London and in Leeds where her university is based.
As a Health and Science Ambassador for Community Action Group ‘I Know I Can – Dream, Believe, Achieve’ from 2013-2014, she worked closely with the London borough of Haringey Council and organisations, the National Youth Council and the Ministry of Youth and Sports to co-create, co-ordinate and deliver a personal development volunteer project in Gambia.
Here, she was the main liaison person communicating with all the organisations in the co-creation of the project – she also co-ordinated the funding for the trip and made sure all those coming along were fulfilling their roles.
As youth MP for the borough of Haringey between 2009 and 2011, she supported and guided her local authority on the distribution of up to £1million for youth provision services. The role also consisted of her leading up to 100 elected youth representatives from 33 boroughs across London.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Training to become an obstetrician and gynaecologist consultant and utilising my skills to bring about change.