Well done to Stephanie Ifayemi, PAIS student, who attained 4th place out of the top 10 in the 2015 Rare Rising Star Awards in recognition of her impressive achievements.
When she was 16, a life-changing talk by the Dalai Lama triggered Stephanie’s determination to lead change on an international scale. “He spoke of how the new generation are the leaders of tomorrow,” she says. “There was a large audience, but I felt like he was speaking directly to me”.
When she heard a talk by Haiti-based human rights lawyer Mario Joseph about the country’s recent earthquake, she determined to do something to help. Despite her young age – she was 16 at the time – she wanted to be on the front line of the emergency response. Not one to let a little thing like her youth, lack of funds and lack of experience stop her, she wrote a proposal to four law firms. So impressed was DLA Piper by the teenager’s plans that, alongside a £1,000 donation to the cause, they offered to host a fundraiser at their offices. She secured speakers including Lord Lesley Griffiths and the Mayor of Barnet and attracted 70 attendees, raising a further £3,000 in the process.
I want to experience a world where I can say I’ve contributed to bettering the lives of many. Hard times build determination and inner strength that you should use on your journey. More than anything, I’m inspired by change, and I want to make it happen on a global level."
Her extraordinary experience in Haiti gave her a taste for international development, and she is now President of the Warwick International Development Society (WIDS). As president, she has rescued the society from the brink of ruin, overseeing a more than twenty-fold increase in sponsorship. Her work has seen her meet with Secretary Justine Greening and the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund to discuss her activities. In the long term, Stephanie hopes to join Kofi Annan as a prominent black figure in the international development sphere – an eminently attainable goal for this determined young woman.