Ark student stories: I’m driven by the idea of being a role model

Wednesday 22nd August 2018

Rashma Rahman is an A level student at Ark King Solomon Academy in London. She received three As in her A levels and will be going on to study History at the University of Oxford.

Education has provided an amazing opportunity for myself and my family. I am the first student to be accepted at Oxbridge from my school and the first woman to go to university in my family; I am aware of the hard work, resilience, and sacrifice required to get here. I hope to use my place at Oxford to serve as a role model to future generations and to focus on social mobility across various institutions.

Not all young people have the same opportunities presented to them and I believe there is a huge injustice in that. Your social class, where you live, and your identity can affect your chances in life. It can affect the institution at which you study, the opportunities you have access to, your standard of living, and your happiness overall. My experiences both in and out of school have given me a keen focus on the need for greater social mobility and the determination to influence positive change in society.

I would not have come this far if I did not study at King Solomon Academy (KSA). I doubt that I would have even applied to Oxford, let alone got an offer. The level of support from our teachers is unfathomable. They have presented us with life-changing opportunities, built our confidence, and provided us with boundless support. There is no doubt that they care deeply about our success and happiness. Since my first day at KSA, my teachers have emphasised the virtue of good character.

My school also taught me that there is more to being a successful person than academics alone. It is about the experiences and extra-curricular activities that you take part in, such as music and sports, which enable you to develop skills that you will take into university or the workplace. For example, through the leadership positions I held at school, I have developed interpersonal skills and engaged in public speaking. I have transferred these skills to my volunteering role as a Young Westminster Foundation (YWF) ambassador, a cross-sector partnership that seeks to shape young people’s services in Westminster to create a safer, brighter future.

As a YWF ambassador, I gain so much insight into the needs of my local community by stepping out of my school bubble. While KSA is bursting with opportunities, it’s not the same across every ward for every young person in the borough of Westminster. My volunteering has made me realise not only how lucky I am to study at KSA, but the countless needs to be met for young people in my local community and the next generation.

I hope to inspire other young people to be ambitious, to strive towards being the best version of themselves, and to follow paths that no one has walked before, no matter what their starting point in life. There’s a massive confidence gap because sometimes we feel inhibited by our identity to step forward to voice our opinions. I want to give young people who come from similar backgrounds to me the confidence to do that.

I believe it is important for society to see more women, particularly those from ethnic minority background, in positions of responsibility and visibility.  I want to be a figurehead for the arts subjects in my community, which lacks both male and female academic role models. There is so much to do to shift perceptions and encourage the kind of cultural change that could see Muslim women filling History departments of universities in the years to come, and the possibility of using my working life after university to contribute to those changes seems to me deeply worthwhile.

I’m driven by the idea of being a role model. I feel a sense of responsibility towards young people like myself. It’s really tough to stand up and speak out about our stories and the obstacles we face. But, if you do not speak out, then the next generation feels silenced and they lack role models to pave paths to success.

Read some more stories from our A level students here.