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The Bright Shining Stars who Light up Science and Technology

PASSION: Mable Nakubulwa gave a talk about her career path

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, engineering and maths – these are subjects where black brilliance seems to remain very much in the minority, but a project called Community Perspectives is determined to shine the spotlight on the black stars in these fields.

One such spotlight should fall on Anita Shervington, a past winner of the acclaimed Winston Churchill Memorial Trust fellowship award, who is passionate about more African
and Caribbean youngsters making their mark in the science world.

For the past three years, Anita has organised an annual ‘Black STEAM’ event in the West Midlands, which stands for Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths, urging
families to meet today’s black science stars.

This year’s scientists included Dr Mark Richards, a physicist and entrepreneur; Mable Nakubulwa, a neuro-psychologist and statistician; Ikem Nzeribe, a writer and technical
activist; Aston Walker, a film maker and inventor, and Jacqui McIntosh, director of Avlon Industries (Europe).

Dr Richards, who works at Imperial College, London, is also a big music fan who operates under the name of DJ Kemist. He challenged the media’s perceptions of what a scientist should look like and said:

“If you want to be a scientist, then look in the mirror because anyone can be one, if you’re able.”

And he spoke of how his Jamaican-born mother, a nurse, was one of his biggest mentors as he grew up in Nottingham. She told him how education was his passport out of poverty, saying:

“You’re not better than anybody, but at the same time nobody is better than you either.”

Uganda-born Mable Nakubulwa discussed her passion for numbers and how this has seen her take on many roles; she was destined for Cambridge University but told of how she sat back and didn’t get the necessary grades, experiencing her first shock of failure. However, after retaking her exams the following year, she went on to thrive at Glasgow University and pursue a successful career – but, that first heartbreaking lesson taught her
the value of working hard.

Manchester-based computer fan Ikem Nzeribe, who calls himself an ‘opinionated troublemaker’, told of how he has so often found himself to be the only black face in the science and technology world. Despite poverty haunting his childhood, his mother bought him his first computer because she recognised his talent. He founded ‘Moss Code’ a model for hacker spaces in the Afro Diaspora – similar to an electronic arts studio.

Inventor and New Style Radio presenter Aston Walker talked about his journey to Damascus in Syria, along with his quest to invent a water steriliser, while Jacqui McIntosh gave an inspiring talk about being ‘not just a hairdresser’ and how her parents were both brilliant mentors and phenomenal people.

She said: “My dad, for me as a kid, set such foundations that there was never an option that you weren’t going to do well – being second best was never ever acceptable in our house."

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