On the Journey to Global Impact with the 2022 Rise Global Winners from Nigeria
The world’s most important problems will be solved by the next generation of leaders. Yet too often, the most exceptional people never realize their full potential for global impact. Either they are never discovered, become isolated at a young age, lack access to opportunities to develop their ideas, or face social and economic barriers.
Finding and supporting individuals who display exceptional promise and the need for opportunity is crucial in the world we live in today. If one person alone can change the world, imagine what a network of exceptional people can do together throughout their lives. This is the vision of the Rise program.
In 2022, Schmidt Futures, in partnership with The Rhodes Trust, announced the second cohort of 100 Rise Global Winners. Rise is a program that finds promising young people between the ages of 15 and 17 from around the world and encourages a lifetime of service and learning by providing support that is inclusive of need-based scholarships, mentorship, networking, access to career development opportunities, and the potential for additional funding.
Of the 100 people awarded in 2022, five Nigerians were announced as winners and joined a growing Rise community of young leaders across the world. Since its inception, about 150,000 people from more than 170 countries have joined the Rise community, and 200 winners have been selected from 69 countries for their promise and commitment to serve.
The 2022 Nigerian winners – Asher Segun-Olasanmi, Emmanuela Ilok, Ikenna Charles Nwafor, Mokwe Uche David, and Naomi Ifunanya Marizu Obinwa – will all partake in the Rise Residential Summit in England this year, a global conference which collates Rise’s network to advance the winners’ commitment to service and learning.
Uche, an environmental enthusiast, initiated the first Zero Waste Day in his community, a program that challenged and encouraged everyone in his community to go an entire day without littering the environment.
Emmanuela initiated a project that helps to bridge the education gap. Her program is called ‘CodEd’ which offers teacher training programs, a student-centered curriculum, as well as internship opportunities. She developed the program after she identified the disparity between the quality of computer science education in public and private schools in Nigeria. Also, Rise has identified Emmanuela as a global leader among her cohort and has tasked her to share her findings on tackling the education crisis through a formal presentation on her program at this year’s residential summit.
Similarly, Ifunanya created a website featuring blogs and videos from medical professionals explaining why healthcare should be important to her fellow Nigerians.
For Ikenna, creating awareness about cybersecurity was a critical way to address the growing issue of cyber-attacks in Nigeria following the COVID-19 pandemic. While speaking about his project, he said, “My Rise project was inspired by the influx of cybercrime cases in Nigeria which has become a menace in our community. I was privileged to speak to two people who shared real-life experiences with me.”
But the journey does not stop at just being a Rise Global Winner for these young people. In 2023, Ikenna collaborated with friends to launch a non-governmental organization with the aim of using education as a tool to eradicate extreme levels of poverty in Nigeria. Ikenna believes that the Rise Residential Summit will give him the opportunity to network with people who are making significant impacts in a variety of industries and disciplines.
“Beyond the summit, I hope to leverage my Rise network and community to build an impact driven tech start-up,” he says. Although the start-up is still in its beginning stages, Ikenna believes the benefits from the Rise program will provide him opportunities for life to serve others and give him the confidence he needs to continue building his dreams.
Asher, a scholar who is a mental health advocate, seeks to promote equity, health, and safety in Nigeria and the world. She is currently working with her higher education institution “to create and provide wellbeing packs for students who may be finding it difficult to cope with homesickness, cultural differences, and adjusting to life in a new environment in general,” she said. The university is endorsing her initiative as they anticipate it benefitting future students.
Similar to Ikenna’s expectations of the 2023 Rise Residential Summit, Asher looks forward to connecting with fellow Rise Winners, especially those in the 2022 cohort of the Rise African Union. She also expects to learn a lot. “I know for a fact that Rise has brought together amazing innovators from all over the world to speak with us on pressing global issues.”
Each of the winners is excited to be a part of the Rise global community. They are eager to inspire the next generation of leaders by encouraging and effectuating long-lasting change in communities worldwide.