Birmingham student Eunice Amankwah named as one of the UK's top 10 rare rising stars
UoB student, Eunice Amankwah has been named as one of 2021’s Top 10 Rare Rising Stars.
Eunice grew up on a council estate in Tottenham, one of the most deprived areas in London, and has lived there her entire life. As her father relocated between Ghana and the UK growing up, Eunice lived predominantly with her mother and four siblings, attending three different primary schools as a young girl. She recalls growing up amid poverty and violence, in a small, overcrowded three-bedroom flat. Despite the odds, Eunice achieved 6A*s and 3As at GCSE. A combination of her parents’ support and these grades encouraged Eunice to move to a more academic sixth form, and aged sixteen, she started her A Level studies at a local grammar school in the neighbouring borough of Enfield.
During her time at secondary school, Eunice grew increasingly frustrated with the rise in knife crime and budget cuts to education and youth services which disproportionately affected state school pupils like herself. Coming from a challenging area of Tottenham, she explains that knife crime was the norm and Eunice recounts losing many friends to knife crime or prison. However, Eunice wanted to change the trajectory for people like herself and younger generations to come. A turning point came when her favourite youth club announced that it was closing down due to budget cuts, depriving Eunice and her friends of a treasured after-school space.
Eunice was devastated and sought to try and find an avenue to channel her frustration, where she could make a real difference. She ended up applying for Enfield Youth Parliament, where she would go on to hold various roles over the next three years. This involved writing a manifesto and campaigning around her school, encouraging her peers to vote for her. As Enfield Youth Councillor, she explored issues such as how the council should combat cuts to youth services and mapped out strategies to incorporate young people's opinions into future projects such as Cycle Enfield. This role led to her being elected twice for the UK Youth Parliament, as Deputy and Head for the Enfield borough.
During her time as UK Youth Parliament member, Eunice represented more than 8,000 young people from across her constituency on a national scale. Her role entailed advising young people on potential career paths, visiting schools and running a national youth campaign called 'Make your Mark', where Eunice single-handedly collected over 10,000 ballot sheets encouraging 11–18-year-olds across the UK to vote on prominent policy issues. The campaign led Eunice to debate in the House of Commons on issues such as implementing a curriculum to better prepare young people for life and tackling knife crime, in front other youth parliament members, MPs and then Speaker John Bercow at the age of sixteen. This was shown live on BBC news and viewed by over 30,000 people on national television.
Eunice’s enduring passion for politics and economics led her to study Political Economy here at Birmingham. Now in her second year at Birmingham, Eunice has successfully secured 3 scholarships for academic achievement (The Miranda Brawn Scholarship, Black Heart Foundation, and the University of Birmingham Chamberlain Award). She has pursued her keen interest in finance, having interned at Aviva, Morgan Stanley, and the Civil service, alongside successfully completing the 2020 Aleto Foundation leadership course. She also sits on the team for The Bridge LLC, a student-run investment club. Currently, Eunice is looking forward to starting at J.P. Morgan as an incoming Summer Analyst in 2022.
When she is not studying, Eunice enjoys giving back to the community through mentoring younger students into the route of politics and banking, and by helping to support Noire Network, an organisation founded by Eunice’s mentor that aims to support African and Caribbean students to access corporate spaces. Throughout the first Covid-19 lockdown, Eunice also volunteered full-time at her mother’s school, helping to cover SEN staff with underlying health conditions and working closely with autistic children. Though no longer working full-time, this is something she has continued throughout her university holidays.