Last summer Richard Adetunji graduated from the University of Warwick with an Economics degree. For some, this is just another life event, but for Richard this was a significant milestone. He grew up in an area where the prospects for university were not high – some of his friends dropped out of school or were in prison. His degree was not just for him, but for all those who were unable to finish University, for those who came from single-parent households like himself and for those who had to fight obstacles to beat the odds. His graduation was his opportunity to show your circumstances are not a defining factor of your future. Now a 21-year-old graduate, he speaks positively about his life experiences because they have shaped him into the man he is today.
Richard grew up in Thamesmead and attended one of the worst schools in the borough. However, he loved school as the importance of education was instilled in him from a young age. He found his motivation in the school’s ethos “no goal is beyond our reach” and carries this message with him till this day. Through the school’s ethos, he strived to make an impact in all he did. In year 9, Richard was nominated to lead his group in an enterprise competition, which ignited his desire to be an Entrepreneur. This continued to year 11 when Richard and his friends started a mentorship programme called the Junior Maths Executives. Despite not being a monetary based venture, he used this initiative to help others who were struggling with Maths. He ensured he didn’t let his Entrepreneurial spirit die by pursuing business related Subjects at GCSE, A-level and even University.
His remaining years at University were followed by numerous achievements. In Second year, he launched his blog (www.socialrichy.com) to motivate and inspire others. He wanted to produce content people could relate to. One of his most notable posts was ‘Fatherless’, a piece about his life without a Father figure. In his final year, he was a student trustee for Warwick’s Student Union and Corporate Relations Exec member for TEDx Warwick, Europe’s largest student led TEDx. He was also selected as one of the participants for Google’s Top Black Talent. Though they were great successes, the overflow of responsibilities did take its toll on his education. Unable to balance all, he missed his target grade and graduated with a 2:2. At the time, he was disappointed but he is aware of his mistakes and wants to ensure others learn from them.
When asked about one thing he’d learnt, he said to make the most of the opportunities around you. It is easy to lose out due to complacency or not realising the value of what you have and this is what happened to him. He lost his Lloyds Scholarship and role as EY brand Ambassador because he didn’t take them seriously.
Richard’s story is an example of life not always panning out the way you want, but it is through these experiences and mistakes you can teach and add value to others. As of now, Richard has received graduate offers from a Global Investment Bank and a Big 4 professional services firm.
Richard Adetunji was a participant of the 2016 Summer Leadership programme, when it was in partnership with Deloitte. The leadership programme was one of his most rewarding experiences because of the network of other delegates, and being able to learn from the mentor’s and speaker’s stories. Richard said, “I am very eager to help with the Aleto Foundation and give back to the programme that has given me so much.”