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Profile: Rachel Ojo

Rachel Ojo sitting in a cafe

Rachel Ojo (2020, PPE)

Rachel Ojo is in her second year studying PPE at Univ. She was a shortlisted nominee for the National Diversity Awards in the Positive Role Model Award for Age category. She was the chair of the UK Youth Select Committee on knife crime and a member of the UK Youth Parliament for Essex.

How do you think you have changed since walking through Univ’s doors for the first time?
Coming to Univ for the first time was an incredible experience for me. I was both excited and nervous when I arrived on this new journey. I was immediately pleased to find that everyone here is so welcoming and I quickly met friends that I have a lot in common with. I believe I have grown so much as a person since coming to Univ. I’ve met so many interesting people from all over the world and been able to learn more about their experiences. I have also been able to try new things and develop new skills over the past year. From trying out kayaking to competing in national debating competitions, I’ve had so many great opportunities while at Oxford to have fun and become more confident in myself.

Has anything surprised you about Oxford/Univ/your course?
One thing that surprised me about studying at Oxford is just how many facilities we have access to. There are several amazing libraries in Oxford and I personally really love going to the Rad Cam to complete my weekly reading. As a PPE student, I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to have in-depth discussions with tutors and learning about such interesting and thought-provoking topics.

What do you do outside of your studies?
I’m currently Librarian Elect at the Oxford Union and it’s been a great experience so far. I’ve been able to meet inspirational speakers from across the world and organise events for the society’s members. The Thursday debates are a personal favourite of mine, it’s amazing to hear different views from the invited speakers and be able to contribute to the discussion.

Do you think being Black has had an impact on your experience as a student at Oxford?
Being black has had an impact on my experience as a student. Whilst Oxford has made efforts to increase the diversity of the student population, it is clear that much work remains to be done. I genuinely believe Univ in particular has done a great job of making students of all backgrounds feel welcome. I have personally had a great time in Oxford so far and the Afro-Caribbean Society has played a large role in this by putting on events that have helped me to connect with other black people across Oxford.

What was the experience of being Chair of the 2019 Youth Select Committee on Knife Crime like?
Knife Crime is an issue that I am extremely passionate about and being Chair of the Youth Select Committee was incredibly interesting and helped me learn more about the issue as well as how parliament works in terms of policy. A personal highlight for me was being invited to 10 Downing St by then Prime Minister, Theresa May and being able to speak to her about the issue. The result of the committee was a report of recommendations to the government on how best to tackle the issue, this included increasing funding for youth services and more focus on early intervention through schools.

How do you feel about the celebration of Black History Month?
The celebration of Black History Month is essential and always a fun experience! Often whenever we learn about black history it’s in relation to the negative. It’s so important to celebrate the diversity in rich culture, there are so many positive and joyous aspects of black history that are often overlooked.

Describe Univ in three words.
Welcoming, Fun, Inspirational

Published: 26 October 2021

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