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Afro-Caribbean Society welcomes Valerie and Colleen Amos

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Last week, the Afro-Caribbean Society was honoured to have both Valerie and Colleen Amos attend their virtual meeting.

The former, Baroness Amos, CH, PC is a British Labour Party politician and diplomat who served as the eighth UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Prior to her appointment to the UN, she served as British High Commissioner to Australia. She was created a life peer in 1997, becoming Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council. In September 2015 Amos was appointed Director of SOAS, University of London, becoming the first black woman to lead a university school in the United Kingdom. In 2019, it was announced that Amos will become the first-ever black head of an Oxford college, University College, from 1 August 2020.

Colleen Amos, OBE, is the founder of the leading London empowerment charity for black boys, The Amos Bursary. The Charity’s aim is to address the under-representation in higher education and the professions of young British men of African and Caribbean descent, by providing mentoring and empowerment to ensure each student moves from potential to performance.

Valerie provided insight on her role as a Labour Party politician and her desire to work on equality in the country during her time in the role. She is passionate about education and spoke to the pupils about the importance of diverse cultural representation in the higher education sector.

Colleen spoke to us about the motivation behind the founding of The Amos Bursary. She explained that after the sisters unfortunately lost both their parents within the space of a week, they were determined to create something to honour their parents’ legacy. Their father was extremely passionate about the education and careers of young black men and their whole family would often have debates about how to improve the higher education system, making it more accessible for students of African and Caribbean descent. For this reason, Colleen decided to create The Amos Bursary, inspired by her father’s beliefs.

Three recipients of The Amos Bursary were also part of our virtual meeting, giving us a deeper understanding of how the Amos Bursary helped them to gain admission to Cambridge, UCL and LSE. They explained how the charity helped explain the UCAS process to them and how this was a huge benefit as they otherwise would not have the resources to create a successful application. Not only did the charity grant networking opportunities to the young men, but they also supplied mentors who guided the students through the application process and continue to guide them through their professional endeavours.

It was a very interesting meeting and we're thankful to Colleen and Valerie for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to welcoming Colleen and Valerie Amos back to the Afro-Caribbean Society soon.

Three recipients of The Amos Bursary were also part of our virtual meeting.
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