Student wins £10k in competition – and is using it to help disadvantaged youths

Students probably don't have the best reputation for being productive and putting others first.

However, Lydie Kitenge, a medical student at University College London, is working hard to help others in her spare time – despite being busy with her degree.

She runs organisation Journey2Med – which aims to reduce barriers for disadvantaged young people in London by providing support and resources to increase access to medical school.

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And she's doing such a great job as she's won £10,000 to help boost the business.

Lydie won the prize to be named Student Woman of the Year (SWOTY) by organisation UNiDAYS.

UNiDAYS' annual SWOTY competition aims to spotlight female-identifying students who are doing inspiring work within their community and running their own business venture next to their studies.

Talking about how it felt to win the SWOTY competition and monetary prize, Lydie told Daily Star: "Absolutely surreal! I wasn’t expecting it since it is an international competition and I knew that competition would be greater as a result.

"I am immensely grateful to UNiDAYS for this opportunity and also appreciative of my family, friends and supportive community that have been so encouraging over the years."

Asked how she came up with the idea for the organisation, Lydie said: "Four years ago, my best friend and co-founder Hazal Turunc and I noticed a huge discrepancy in the resources and information available to students from disadvantaged backgrounds when applying to higher education career options like medicine.

"We experienced this knowledge gap first hand being first generation university students from a low socioeconomic background, predominantly studying at state schools and based in a deprived area.

"Despite these barriers of lack of information and resources we were successfully admitted into Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London Medical School.

"This sparked a passion in us to want to support other students similar to us, in rewriting their story and going beyond external barriers to achieve their academic dreams. This is why we started our YouTube channel in 2019, providing free tips and advice aimed at aspiring medics from disadvantaged backgrounds."

On what she's planning to spend the £10,000 prize on, Lydie added: "The first thing is to grow Journey2Med more, and invest in equipment and resources to allow us to create high quality academic videos on our social media accounts.

"It would also be incredibly useful for Hazal and I to receive leadership training, speaking skills training and management training to ensure we are putting our best foot forward with this initiative."

She added: "Additionally we (Hazal Turunc and I) want to take part in school outreach activities in disadvantaged schools across London. This fund will be incredibly useful in funding all the costs involved in this.

"We’d love to host a free academic conference this year for aspiring medics of disadvantaged background to receive top quality tips and tricks to smash their medical school application process and improve their chances of getting into Medicine. It is so important to even up the playing field and bridge that social mobility gap."

Lydie's comments come after one of last year's SWOTY runner-ups, Emily Hale, talked about how she copes running her Build & Breathe Scoliosis while at uni.


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