As a toddler, Ras.I and his mum were left homeless in inner-city London. Now a finalist at the University of Oxford, Ras.I is ready to make a difference – and help change the lives of young people just like him.
Ras.I Martin was born in 2001 in Stratford.
“My mum and I spent six years of our life homeless, living in a women’s refuge”, Ras.I said. “My mum is an immigrant from Poland, so we had few connections here.”
“I was feeling the full weight of poverty, even as a child”
While at secondary school, Ras.I faced extreme hardship. His family relied on food banks and he attended school with holes in his shoes.
“There were issues I was facing at that time that were far more pressing”, he said. “I was feeling the full weight of poverty, even as a child, and dealing with the constant threat of violence as a young Black man living in inner city London.”
At the time, Ras.I never considered university as a future prospect. He didn’t know much about university options and nobody in his family had attended university before. But then, his friends introduced him to The Access Project.
Ras.I joined The Access Project in 2016. As part of our widening participation and social mobility programme, Ras.I received tutoring and mentorship to boost his grades, grow his confidence and inspire him to raise his aspirations to attend a top university. Soon enough, Ras.I saw success in his future.
“I’m on the precipice of breaking a generational cycle of poverty”
Later, Ras.I attended a trip to the University of Oxford. He fell in love with the university and joined The Access Project’s Oxbridge scheme. Our dedicated staff helped him with his application and interview techniques.
Now, Ras.I is a finalist at the University of Oxford studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
He said: “I’m the first in my family to go to university and moreover I’m on the precipice of breaking a generational cycle of poverty.”
He added: “It started from the influence of my University Access Officer, who told me: Ras.I, you can do it. And that’s something I’ve taken into university.”
Recently, Ras.I was elected as a governor of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Elsewhere, he was appointed the sole delegate to the UK at the Commonwealth Youth Parliament.
A young trailblazer, Ras.I wants to share his story with young people. He aims to become a Member of Parliament, striving to eventually become Britain’s Prime Minister.
He said: “My lived experience and what I’ve seen and gone through has only lit a fire under my belly to push the dial forward, transforming the lives of Britain’s poor”.
“This path that I’ve been on for the past couple of years all started with these voices in my lives to push to become a better version of myself, which instilled in me that I can truly become anything I want to become.
“For this journey that I’m on now, I can unequivocally say that it would not have been possible without The Access Project”.
Young people like Ras.I are twice as likely to attend top universities after studying with The Access Project. One hour of volunteering per week can put a student from an under-resourced background on track to a good education, giving them the best chance at social mobility.