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Samuel Akpan

Listed in the 2020-2021 Top 150 Future Leaders List (Powerful Media), Samuel Akpan (BA Politics and International Studies, 2021) is now in freelance journalism with a focus on sports.


What does it mean to you to be on the Future Leaders list?

To be named as a Future Leader is a massive honour. To be given such a ‘heavy’ title means you have been recognised for your competencies and your future potential.

Also, for me it’s an extra achievement, as I’m also deaf in my left ear. When I'm older, whatever field I'm in or wherever I am, I can look back and be proud of the man I’ve become.

To be listed as a Future Leader recognises things like the social enterprise in fashion I set up while studying.

The award has made me think about what it means to be a leader and I definitely feel that it's about making sure you excel by giving back where you can.


Can you tell me a bit about the social enterprise you were involved in?

In 2017, there was a craze where everyone wanted to make fashion brands so I made printed T-shirts with my brand Ill London. When I got to Warwick I also made sweaters in different colours and added my logos. I ran a raffle for a one-off football jersey with my logo on, and 50% of the money raised went to the Sickle Cell Society. It helped raise awareness of the importance of giving blood if you can as it’s essential to helping people with Sickle-Cell Anaemia.


Could you tell me a bit about what you've been doing since you left Warwick?

I’m enjoying a break from continuous education right now, for the first time since starting primary school.

Since my second year at university I didn’t think the professional route was something I wanted to commit to, but I always really liked writing, so I’ve decided to see what I can do with what interests me, writing and talking!

I want to continue with my work supporting the National Deaf Children’s Society where I give talks to parents of children affected by hearing loss and provide support. I’ve also been getting lots of experience in journalism in sport, and working on a sports podcast.

Thinking of the future, I am not completely closed off going into a professional role, but I do want to take some time to pursue my passions while I am still fresh from university. This is a good time for me to be reflective as it’s been a particularly challenging time studying during the pandemic.


Have you got a particular memory of studying at Warwick?

My first year at Warwick was interesting. My course was very flexible with just one core module and the ability to take modules external to PAIS. So in my first year I thought it would be great to do a language as one of my modules. I remember the queue for French was very long and I didn’t have time to wait, so I took a shorter queue which was for German, which meant I also studied German in my first year!


How did you find the disability support at Warwick?

I feel that I am the way I am because of being deaf and have been naturally focussed and hard-headed about it. I might not have done some things because of it, but when I first came to Warwick I was given practical support and that was great. In my halls I had a special fire alarm which would vibrate on my bed, and I’d never seen something like that before. Wellbeing Services asked if I had everything I needed, and gave me extra time in my first-year exams. So yes, I would say Warwick was great.


What three words you use to describe yourself?

I’d say I’m passionate, energetic and inquisitive.




What was the most important thing you learned from your time at Warwick?

That there’s always an opportunity to find yourself and that the opportunity can look different to different people.

There can be cultures that can steer you towards Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), or tech or finance which is great, but there are more opportunities out there than you think. Warwick really helped me pursue so many different things, more than a degree. I qualified as a football referee and can take that anywhere now, as well as working on my social enterprise.


What was your favourite extracurricular activity at Warwick?

It has to be football. Last year when I played for PPEFC, even though I didn't do PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), we won one of the leagues. There are so many great memories though, like being part of AfroFest, always a great experience and one year, my social enterprise brand Ill London, even got featured.


How did you find it, studying during the pandemic?

It was tough because of the change of rhythm of life, without the need to get up for the bus and lectures, and to join a seminar from your room. As I lived on my own in my third year, I couldn’t go out to other people’s houses. But there’s a lot I have taken from the time and have found a new resilience. I’ve learnt new things and am able to question what I want to do.


Do you think it's shaped what you want to do now?

Yes, it’s allowed me to be independent. When I was alone, I really took time to look at what I wanted for my career in the next 20 years.

I’m glad now that I’m focussed on writing for sport and have gained experience with my time at BCOMS (Black Collective of Media in Sport), an initiative partnered by Arsenal Football Club.