In every generation there is always one who sets themselves apart from the crowd, an individual who against all the odds achieves that which many can only dream of. Miss Gillian Appau is one of those ground breaking individuals. Her presence at Oxford is not the only thing that sets the standard for other young people but Gillian actively does so by helping other young people to aim higher. Gillian’s considerate and selfless acts coupled with her academic achievements, has led to her nomination and selection as the ‘Best Student Achiever’ for the upcoming GUBA 2012 awards, surpassing other exceptional nominees. The GUBA Award for the Best Student Achiever is a highly sought after award which recognises students that have been academically dominant and consistent in their efforts to improve their communities. Gillian is a worthy winner and will receive her deserving recognition at the award ceremony which takes place on the 10th of November 2012. Having been a superlative student throughout the years, the young student, in her final year of study at the University of Oxford, spoke to Claudia Andrews about being recognised for her achievements.
Congratulations on your selection as the GUBA Award’s ‘Best Student Achiever’ 2012. How do you feel about this accomplishment? I’m very overwhelmed by this amazing accolade. Initially, I was unaware of my nomination that I had so to find out that I had won is really amazing. I am very grateful that I have been recognized and I really hope that i will be able to use it in a positive way.
What is your view on the Ghana UK Based Achievement Awards? I think the idea behind the Ghana UK Based Achievement awards is a brilliant one. I volunteered to help out with the awards this year because I think it is really important that Ghanaians are recognised in the UK. Ghanaians in the UK are doing exceptionally great things but it has been difficult in the past to find these achievers because there was nothing like the GUBA Awards. I think the GUBA Awards is having a positive impact on our community and I hope that it continues to stay strong.
What are your expectations for the GUBA Awards 2012 ceremony? Unfortunately I haven’t attended a GUBA awards ceremony before, I have however, followed it online and it looked to be a really amazing evening. The quality from the past ceremonies has been outstanding so I am expecting a high standard and would like to see everyone having a good time.
You have been an outstanding student thus far, what motivates you to achieve these great results? Firstly I would say that my family are my main motivation. My parents have worked extremely hard towards my education and have really sacrificed a lot for me. They have supported me emotionally, financially and in all areas and I really feel the need to make sure their hard work doesn’t go in vain and they are not in a sense disgraced. There have been times in the past when people may have disagreed with the decisions they made for my benefit but, they put my interests first and that motivates me to ensure that I can return the favour through my hard work. Also, I want to make a difference to my community and society, to show that young black people can achieve something and are not the stereotypical young troublesome people that society perceives us to be. There are so many young people that are willing to work hard and achieve something with their lives and I want to be a part of that. Overall I have a number of things that motivate me but my main ones are my family and my community.
How did you feel when you got your acceptance letter for the prestigious Oxford University? The Oxford application process was quite long, there was the initial application followed by an interview, being offered a place conditionally then actually getting the results to secure a place. At each stage that I advanced to I was in disbelief because from my educational past there was always a sense that I was intelligent but, intelligence alone does not guarantee you a place at Oxford University so the fact that I got accepted still amazes me to this day. Sometimes I don’t believe that I’m here , It is a really surreal feeling and I am very grateful to God for bringing me here and I hope to use this opportunity to make a difference in society
What do you hope to achieve in life and what is your greatest goal? I have always said that I want to make a difference and contribute greatly to life in general. Although I am not yet sure as to what the difference will be and how I would go about it, I know things need to be done so I will continue to apply my skills in areas of need and make sure I give my best. In as much as I can, I try to get involved in society and with programs such as the GUBA awards and will continue to make an impact where I can, till I find my ultimate goal.
Aside from your academics are you involved in any other projects? One thing I have been very keen on is encouraging young people especially young black people to aim higher and being at Oxford University gives me the platform to do so because my story is a testament to the rewards of ambition and hard work. Presently, I mentor young people who want to gain admission to Oxford or Cambridge University and also people who want general university advice. I have been doing that through Sponsors of Educational Opportunities (SEO)’s branch in London. SEO is an international organization that aims to assist ethnic minorities to secure jobs in top firms in the countries. Their current initiative is a scheme to get young people to apply and get into university. This organisation helped me greatly with my career and I support them by mentoring the young people that want to go on to higher education. I am also proactive with the help that I give to other young people and I encourage them in different ways such as reading personal statements and offering advice where necessary.
What advice would you give to students who aspire to reach your level? I believe in God and I know that I will not be where I am without the kindness and favour of God. I will therefore advise others to aim high and work harder, in order to reap the benefits of hard work that God has in store for them. I was brought up to never let my age, race or any other societal constraints hold me back from achieving my goals and taught to go after what I wanted because without trying I wouldn’t be close to achieving my dreams. I would then like to pass on to others that in all things trying your hardest will get you closer to a better result.
Interview by Claudia Andrews