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As a student, I succeeded in every stage of education: from 10A*s at GCSE to becoming the first law student of either Black or Muslim heritage to graduate top of the year at Oxford University, I did everything schooling taught me to do - work hard and get the grades.

And yet, schooling still failed me. Coming from a broken home with PTSD, I threw myself in my books to escape my life - and yet with all my As and A*s, I left school not understanding who I was, what I can do, and the impact I can make on the world - as me. 

Navigating such an intense institution like Oxford, formal education never sought to prepare me for the challenge of being 'me' in an environment which was - fundamentally - never made for someone like me. I can't tell you how many people looked at me with my tracksuit and durag and said: "and you go to Oxford?"

Yes, grades unlock doors to opportunities - but, without more, they cannot prepare us to stay in these new spaces and succeed as our authentic selves. In a world where young people are becoming increasingly disillusioned by formal education, students need more than tutors - they need mentors and role models.

My experiences have shaped my mission for The Learners Collective. Take it from me - education is not simply about getting the best grades. It's about equipping us with the skills, knowledge and means to understand who we are, the value of our individuality and the power it can bring to us and the world. In other words, it's about delivering learning that empowers.

By connecting young people with Scholars who look like them, speak like them, and live like them, they too can find the confidence to succeed like them - in their exams and beyond.
It is a service, that I know, younger me would be proud of.

Founder of The Learners Collective

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