Education Is The Passport
There is a time in our lives when we don’t quite believe in ourselves. Often, someone special takes the time to encourage you, look out for you – a mentor. They give you their confidence and unconditional support. For many people over the years this person has been René Carayol.
Roehampton University, last week, recognised and presented René with an Honorary Doctorate. After joining the Business School Advisory Board, René continues to devote and commit both his time and resources to serve and inspire the students and teams at Roehampton.
It is a special university. 70% of the students come from ethnic minority backgrounds and 60% are from within a 3 mile radius.
The Royal Festival Hall was vibrant and alive with graduating Roehampton students. As they graduated one by one, what became apparent was the rich beauty in seeing such an eclectic mix of backgrounds – a microcosm of London, the cosmopolitan city of the world. Everyone was smiling, everyone was immensely proud. They had graduated in one of the toughest times you can imagine.
They have all shared the journey, the experience, and the sacrifice. This was their moment of recognition for the hard work and dedication, as they look to create a more prosperous future. A prosperous future for their family as much as themselves.
René’s parents came from Gambia to London, to enable their children to have access to tertiary education. Get them all through university and return to Gambia. Maybe an immigrant mentality that is all too familiar.
The stark and overwhelming reality of London meant that they had to heavily sacrifice their lives to afford for their children to have the opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had. Education was the passport. The passport out of poverty.
As the eldest brother, René had to be the role model for his siblings. Demonstrate what could be possible and that nothing is impossible. That if opportunity doesn’t knock, you build the door.
When celebrating achievements, we remember those extraordinary people who helped us along the way. We feel a sense of pride both for the accomplishment but also for the knowledge that we ‘paid back’ those who selflessly sacrificed. We can safely say René’s mum and dad are looking down with huge pride, huge joy and huge grins, the same way his children are looking up to him.
We rattled our heads in this office to think of someone more deserving of this tremendous award – we came up blank.
We stand tall because we stand on the shoulders of giants. René’s shoulders to be more precise. He continues to inspire and lead us into living more inclusive lives, to making the world a better place, to looking out for each other and looking after each other.
To René the leader, the friend, the mentor, the coach, the dad, the son and the Chelsea FC fan – we salute you.
Never allow your limitations to hold you back, enable your strengths to take you forward.
Our lives are better when you’re in it.