TCFT has brought an abundance of amazing people into my life over the years, including the awesomeness who is Geraldine, who I met in Bournemouth back in 2016. Geraldine is inspiring, incredibly knowledgeable and extremely experienced in the media field, as well as being caring, down to earth and very, very funny. When I invited Geraldine to TCFT Croydon last year, she was more than willing to come and support, bringing her friend, Patricia, along with her.
I met Patricia for the first time that Sunday, but somehow, I managed to make a major impression on her. Ever since then, she has been one of my biggest – and I mean biggest – champions. She is genuinely one of the most supportive, kind and driven women I have ever met. She is also a master networker, just like Geraldine. It is that supportive nature and networking brain of hers that recommended me to become a scholar for the eiClub.
I was beyond shocked when I received the email, but extremely thankful for the opportunity. I knew that it would be a blessing for me and provide me with the opportunity to not only expand my network, but continue to develop as a person. I would probably say that the biggest honour was being named the first ei Khadija Saye Scholar, named after the amazingly, talented young woman who lost her life in the Grenfell Tower disaster and was one of the scholars who came before me – I really wish that I had gotten the chance to meet her.
Being a Khadija Saye Scholar opened the door to a wealth of opportunities this year and introduced me to a whole lot of wonderful, stellar people. Julia immediately comes to mind, the force of nature behind ei and the queen of networking, who is also thoughtful, intelligent and most of all, has a very big heart . Julia is an amazing conversationalist, with some of the best stories. She is inclusive and caring, ensuring that no one is ever stood on their own and taking time to introduce you to others. Throughout this year, Julia has made me feel nothing but welcome and supported, also asking me to read poetry at one of the trips away and present an award at the Comment Awards – both unique and great experiences.
The trips taken as part of Names Not Numbers, to the beautiful Waddesdon Manor and Oxford, were kind of surreal from me, but never failed to teach me a whole lot. They were filled with great people, including Angela, Louise, Mr Gee, Simon, Mr Gee, Justine, Deborah, Steven, Shanice and so many more. I’ve also loved getting to meet and speaking to other members of the Editorial Intelligence team, like Alice and Karen – they’re so funny.
I’ve met other beautiful, supportive individuals over suppers, like Kat, who I sat down with for great conversation over coffee. I’ve learnt from truly talented veterans and legends in their fields at various events throughout the year, buying brilliant books along the way, like The Empathy Instinct by Peter Bazalgette, who personally signed it for me with his nickname after being majorly impressed by a question I asked (I was surprised too, I was simply speaking about what I know).
However, I think I’ve most enjoyed spending time with and developing friendships with fellow scholars, Mayur, Dami and Rae. These are three brilliant young people, overflowing with talent and making a difference in the lives of young people in different ways.
Dami never fails to make me laugh, or make me smile with his bubbly energy – he is a master networker in his own light. Rae is very easy to talk to and a fun presence to be around. And I enjoyed spending plenty of time with Mayur during the weekend away at Oxford, engaging in conversations on a variety of subjects and having him by my side when I felt out of my depth. Mayur also touched my heart majorly that weekend, when he had my back and gave me an unexpected gift – those little things mean the world to me.
I have already gained and learned so much during my time as a Khadija Saye Scholar, which has a whole lot to do with the people I have met. I feel beyond blessed to have met them and I look forward to developing the connections in the new year and beyond. To my champions and supporters, Patricia and Geraldine, you are the most amazing and wonderful women. I love you all.