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Ilford student named one of the top 10 black students in the UK

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 August 2020

Vanessa Madu was awarded as one of the top 10 black students in the UK in the Rare Rising Stars Award. Picture: Rare Rising Stars

Vanessa Madu was awarded as one of the top 10 black students in the UK in the Rare Rising Stars Award. Picture: Rare Rising Stars

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A young woman from Ilford has been named as one of the top 10 black students in the country.

Vanessa is passionate about getting more young girls interested in careers in Stem. Picture: Rare Rising StarsVanessa is passionate about getting more young girls interested in careers in Stem. Picture: Rare Rising Stars

Vanessa Madu, a former Recorder/Rotary Young Citizen winner, was named a Rare Rising Star in an award ceremony on Thursday (August 6) which showcased the achievements of the best black students in the UK.

Maths devotee Vanessa was named fourth place in the ranking which is sponsored by Cambridge and Oxford universities.

Vanessa told the Recorder: “I’m really excited about this, I mean being awarded a spot in the list of top 10 black students in the UK, I’m still in shock about it!”

She is currently studying maths at Imperial College London, where she is the only female student of black heritage in her year group.

Vanessa when she was a student at Ursuline Academy. Picture: Rose RussellVanessa when she was a student at Ursuline Academy. Picture: Rose Russell

In her first year of university, Vanessa made significant contributions to the planning and running of London Girls’ Maths, an outreach event held by Imperial’s maths department to reach girls who come from backgrounds under-represented on the maths undergraduate course.

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Vanessa has long been a champion of helping to encourage more young women to pursue careers in Stem subjects and has tried to break down those barriers to help level the field.

She said: “Society deems maths to be a boys’ subject and people have the misconception that you have to be a genius to be in Stem.”

Vanessa realised she had a knack for maths at 13 at a funfair in Ilford when she guessed the number of marbles in a jar (432) after doing a rough calculation of the volume of the jar.

When she was a pupil at Ursuline Academy Ilford, the school didn’t offer a further maths A-level so she decided to teach herself.

Vanessa has also appeared on panels at The Future of Women in Stem conference, and spoke about the need to change the way Stem subjects are taught to make it more appealing to young girls.

In November Vanessa started Project Insight, which aims to provide Day in the Life videos, interviews and information into as many Stem careers as possible so young people aren’t left guessing in the dark about their future.

Vanessa has also been shortlisted for the Booking.com Technology Playmaker Awards under the Rising Technologist category, selected from hundreds of entries worldwide.


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