There are a few reasons why George Obolo decided to study medicine. Firstly, the analytical and investigative nature of the profession fascinated him. He was interested in using logic and problem-solving skills to take the symptoms that someone presents, as well as test results, and putting them all together to figure out the cause of illness.
But the basis of his pursuit of the medical profession lay in something far greater - his desire to help people. He wanted to be able to aid people - make their life better in some way, be there for them when they needed it most.
But as it turns out, George would start doing that long before he finished medical school.
As a student, George, and his peers Oyinda Adeniyi, Pobor Eruesegbefe and Amgad Salih, founded The Black Excellence Network. This is an organisation that aims to elevate young black students and provide the resources and opportunities to increase their entrance into top universities, apprenticeships, and careers within the UK. This organisation was born out of their own experiences moving through the education system and finding a lack of resources and support for black students. George comments, “There is value in mentorship relationships with people that look like you, people who you feel understand and can relate with you.”
The Black Excellence Network does just this. It ensures that a community is created for black students moving to and through the higher education system, and through this George is already helping a lot of people in their time of need. The organisation caters to students from the age of 16-24 and with over 37,000 hits on their website without any form of paid advertising so far, they are clearly creating a community that is desperately needed. While they started out with sectors such as Medicine and Law, where they knew help was urgently needed, they are now serving a more diverse range of academics. George quotes, “As we move forward, we want to focus more on the humanities and the creative students too.” The Black Excellence Network is also currently involved in a project with the University of Manchester that caters specifically to humanities students in providing both opportunities and resources to smoothen their integration into the university.
An organisation like this is crucial to correct the lack of diversity the founders discovered in the academic space. Out of his course of 430 students, George estimated that there were only between 10-15 black people. He suggests that this problem has its roots far earlier in the education system; he explains that “to get into medicine, it requires a decision to study it at quite a young age, by 16 years old. But if you see a lack of representation in the field, then you’re much less likely to be considering it.”
George believes the key to bridging this gap is through connection, through creating a community with black students. “It is important to get the perspective of black students.” It is crucial to take the opinions of those moving into the education system or the workplace and communicate that knowledge to the institutions they are headed to. Creating these connections is the way forward, and organisations like The Black Excellence Network are instrumental in creating the network needed for this.
Want to keep up to date with George and his work with The Black Excellence Network? Click the links below!
Personal Website: https://georgeobolo.notion.site
The Black Excellence Network Website: https://blackexcellencenetwork.net