'I aim to be the best': Budding journalist is first recipient of scholarship for black British students

Kesiah Gakpe has been named as the first recipient of the Cowrie Foundation Scholarship

Kesiah Gakpe has been named as the first recipient of the Cowrie Foundation Scholarship - Credit: University of Leicester

A student from Ilford has been named the first recipient of a scholarship introduced to provide opportunities for talented black British students. 

Kesiah Gakpe, 19, begins her studies in journalism this month at the University of Leicester, funded by the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation (CSF). 

When she was a pupil of Palmer Catholic Academy in Seven Kings, Kesiah achieved three As at A-Level, despite the impact of the pandemic. 

She said: “I always strive for perfection – I aim to be the best in all that I do, to prove to myself that I can do it. 

“After taking a gap year, I decided journalism was the course for me: Leicester is one of the best, so it was the best decision I could make. 

“In the media, ethnic minorities – and particularly black people – are quite underrepresented, and I want to be in a space where I can accurately tell the stories of those groups who do not have the same level of representation, and work to make a change to the negative image of black people in certain areas of the media. 

“I really want to be the person who people look to and think ‘she did it, and so can I’.

"I want to be a positive light in my chosen industry.” 

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Professor Richard Oreffo, professor of musculoskeletal science at the University of Southampton and founder of the CSF, said: “Higher education has the power to transform lives and critically, access to university should not be limited by race or social class, but unfortunately this is not the case for all in our society. 

“We seek to transform disadvantaged black British student lives through education by addressing a significant barrier: the financial cost of university education. Together with the University of Leicester, this new partnership will change lives.” 

The CSF aims to fund 100 black British students through UK universities in the next decade. 

As part of the programme, the university offers a full tuition fee waiver and academic support for successful postgraduate applicants, with the foundation providing a substantial contribution towards maintenance and living costs. 

The charity is aiming to raise £500,000 to support its first tranche of students.