Written by guest blogger: Sherifa IssifuCBO_4474bw-1

Emmanuel Opoku currently twenty years old, moved to Britain from Ghana at the age of nine. As an outstanding academic, he excelled with a series of A*’s and A’s at GCSE and in A-level’s.

These impressive achievements earned him an opportunity to study Chemistry at the Imperial College London. Emmanuel soon realised that a change in law meant that he did not qualify for Student Finance – a government loan for UK Home Students for their first degrees.

Emmanuel was undeterred and rather, got involved with the charity ‘Let Us Learn’.  Let Us Learn is an organization actively working towards a change in the law, which prohibits students with legal residence in the UK from qualifying for government loans. He has been actively campaigning with this organisation, to help other students who might face similar barriers.

University tuition fees are undoubtedly expensive and in an innovative bid, Emmanuel is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on hubbub https://hubbub.net/p/eotoimperial to raise funds to cover living and maintenance costs.

This campaign is one that we at GUBA support and would urge everyone to donate and equally support.

Emmanuel is truly an inspiration and demonstrates that grit leads to success. GUBA caught up with Emmanuel to find out more about the campaign and other projects….

How did you hear about the Let Us Learn Campaign?

I came into contact with the Let Us Learn campaign, after I came across an article on the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/oct/07/asylum-seekers-immigration-rules-university-denied). I then, decided to get in touch and found out that there were other people facing similar problems. I have since been actively working with the campaign, we have managed to accomplish so much as a unit and I am very proud of all our achievements thus far.

Tell us a bit more about your current campaign and what you plan to achieve

There are two main aims with my campaign. Primarily, the aim of the campaign is to raise the much needed funds for my time at university, as I will not be receiving any loans from student finance.

Secondly, the campaign is designed to raise awareness around the legislation surrounding legal migrants and access to student finance. The media coverage around my story is getting people who might be affected by the same change in law to act quickly before it’s too late.

 What types of activities were involved to get the law changed?

I have been active in getting the law changed regarding migrants and access to student finance, through meetings, demonstrations and workshops as a representative for the campaign. The key action taken was to present our stories at the Supreme Court in the Beaurish Tigere case.

 What did you do in the two years after A-Levels?

I was aware that Imperial College London conducted research abroad and that it would be possible to volunteer my time in the service of others, whilst deferring my entry. After conversing with a colleague, who had spent some time in Gambia on the PROLIFICA (Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Carcinoma in Africa) Project, I was determined to be a part of the team. I contacted the necessary people and secured a role on the project.

I am also very grateful to Mossboune Community Academy, my secondary school, for allowing me to come back and work as a teaching assistant. This allowed me to save up some money to contribute towards my tuition fees.

What was your experience like as a teaching assistant?

The biggest challenge in my role was maintaining a professional demeanor around the pupils of a school I was once part of. I have learnt great lessons there, on being ‘there is a time and place for being formal and informal’.

My experience highlighted the importance of working as a team. With the future, safety and education of the students at stake, working effectively with other staff members to make the day run as smoothly as possible was a top priority. It has been an invaluable experience and it has taught me that being selfless and putting others, before yourself can be a very enriching experience. Emmanuel_lab

How would you describe your national identity?

The fact, that I have spent more than half my life in the UK means I naturally associate myself with British values. I sound, look and act British. I do believe it’s important to remember where you come from, in my case this would be Ghana. I respect the culture and traditions of the Ghanaian way of life.

What would your ideal job be once you finish university?

My ideal job would be a role that involves collaborative work with like-minded people, on research projects to benefit those who are less fortunate. I see myself ultimately becoming a chemical engineer or a pharmacologist. Once, I finish university I would love to work on a project similar to the one I worked with in Gambia; PROLIFICA (Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Carcinoma in Africa).

The role of a Chemical Engineer is to make decisions that optimise production, through research and collaboration. At the heart of this job is the need to always improve and strive towards better outcomes. Similarly, a pharmacologist is entrusted with the role of understanding how compounds interact with the human body. Much of the role is laboratory-based, working as part of a scientific research team. My university course will prepare me well for these roles.

What advice would you give to other students in your position?

Always persevere!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Nothing worth having comes easy, so be prepared to work hard.

Emmanuel Opoku is undoubtedly headed for success. We urge you all to help him achieve the necessary funds for tuition. All donations are welcome: https://hubbub.net/p/eotoimperial

By Sherifa Issifu

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