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New scholarship developed to accelerate participation of black students in engineering

Imperial has established a groundbreaking scholarship for black students thanks to a generous donation from three Imperial alumni.

The Lara & Biodun Olanrewaju Scholarship, which was awarded for the first time this year, supports black undergraduate students of exceptional academic merit in the Department of Mechanical Engineering or the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The scholarship, which covers tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant, was created thanks to a $77K donation from brothers Tunde Olanrewaju (Electrical and Electronic Engineering 2002), Jide Olanrewaju (Mechanical Engineering 2002) and Yemi Olanrewaju (Mechanical Engineering 2005).

Beyond this, the Olanrewaju brothers recently committed an additional $64K donation to spur the establishment of an endowed fund for future scholarships.

The first recipient of the scholarship, Samuel Albert-Antwi, has just commenced his studies in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He said: “Education to me is a master key that unlocks many doors in society that I would not have been privy to otherwise. Imperial is a pioneer in the fields of technology, science and engineering and I am so happy to have the opportunity to study here.

“I don’t come from a family who has a lot of money, and that means I could be at a disadvantage compared to my peers. This scholarship has alleviated financial pressures and allowed me to enter university fully focused on my studies with a new confidence.”

As part of Black History Month, Imperial hosted an event to celebrate the achievements of black engineers and reflect on the transformative impact of philanthropy.

Dr Sunday Popo-Ola, Research and Teaching fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. During the event, Dr Sunday Popo-Ola, a Research and Teaching fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, shared his views on the impact of philanthropy, his own personal journey, and his motivations to support diversity in STEM.

Dr Popo-Ola won the 2018 President’s Award for Excellence in Societal Engagement for successfully establishing the Creative Futures programme, which aims to inspire underrepresented pupils from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to consider careers in STEM subjects. He has also led and championed a range of other initiatives to support BAME participation in science and engineering.

At the event, the Olanrewaju brothers called on others to join them in the establishment of an endowed fund for the scholarships.

Jamal Iqbal, Head of Development for the Faculty of Engineering, with the Olanrewaju brothers and Samuel Albert-Antwi, recipient of the scholarship

Jamal Iqbal, Head of Development for the Faculty of Engineering in the College’s Advancement Division, said: “Samuel is a remarkable student and a truly deserving recipient of this scholarship, which is a powerful testament to the impact of philanthropy.

“The generosity and foresight of the Olanrewaju Family has allowed us to establish an unprecedented scholarship that will accelerate the participation of black students in technology. We hope that their fellow alumni, colleagues and friends will join us as we build more momentum for this important effort.”

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What scholarships are you aware of that help accelerate people of color in the pursuit of STEM careers? Please share them with us and our likeminded parents/students on our social networks @aicpublications. We’d love to help you help others that to take advantage of them.