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The importance of Role Models: who inspires you.

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The importance of Role Models: who inspires you.
by Connect Admin - Thursday, 16 July 2020, 2:50 PM

Welcome to the 5th Blog from the Employability team:

Blog 1 - Gave you advice and insights for making sure your personality comes through in your CV and Career Planning during the Covid-19 Lockdown

Blog 2 - Networking: all you need to know took you through the importance of networking with examples of benefits from Emma who has just started up her own business.

Blog 3 - How to prepare and approach an interview suggested the best possible techniques to success in your job interview.

In Blog 4 we encouraged you to think like an entrepreneur

In this blog and the next we want you to think about who your role model is. Who inspires you?

For this blog members of the team have each chosen one historical individual who is and has been a role model for them, in how they try to live their lives, personally and professionally. In blog 6 we will look at individuals who have inspired us and provide you with examples personal to us.

What do we mean by “role model”?

The Cambridge Dictionary describes a role model as someone who an individual admires and whose behaviour they try to copy. Our role models tend to change as we get older. When we are younger our role models might be footballers, singers or actors. But the concept or idea of ‘role model’ is not so simplistic. As our societal and political views become established, we may look to individuals who have made a significant difference to a profession, a population or the world.

In 2015, researchers in social psychology (Morgenroth, Ryan and Peters) identified that role models can have a variety of functions in personal and professional development. Role models can inspire us to be successful, change how we look at life, help us to define our values, and identify with a group to whom we can belong.

In blog 3 we talked about preparing for interviews and the type of questions you might be asked. The interviewer might ask you who your role model is and to explain why. So, it's important to think carefully about who you would choose.

The team were asked to identify their role models and to explain why they have chosen them. We thought you might be interested in who they chose and why.



Larry Oseni – Work Placement and Student Support Officer, Fairfield Business School


"Nelson Mandela was a former South African leader who spent 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid, the policy by which the races were separated, dependent upon their skin colour and whites were given power over blacks in South Africa. Upon his release from prison, Mandela became the first president of a black-majority-ruled South Africa which officially ended apartheid.

Nelson Mandela’s live has taught me about the importance of passion and to have perseverance in whatever I believe in. Nelson Mandela had passion and perseverance; he led a non-violent action against apartheid in South Africa. It was a choice that landed him in prison for 27 years. He emerged from incarceration and became South Africa’s first ever black president. It was the first time Mandela himself was able to vote in his own country.


Mandela’s road to change was paved with enormous challenges, but he never gave up the fight. His passion for the cause was bigger than the bitterness and shame of his failures. He said, “The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.” If Mandela taught us anything, it was to build our lives and work around a noble cause. When you become engaged in something you deeply believe in, your energy rises, and you become a magnet for people who share the same convictions. Adapt your strategies and tactics but remain faithful to the cause.”

Fabiani Bernardi - Careers, Work Placement and Student Support Officer, London School of Science and Technology

"Enzo Ferrari was a passionate dreamer, confident entrepreneur and charismatic team leader. I consider him a role model because he made his passion his reason for living, and for changing the concept of sport car and the history of car racing. He never stopped dreaming, and thanks to his perseverance, he got back on his feet countless times. That is why I love his example so much. I had to get back up, but never gave up. In certain situations, strength of character is everything. Also, as an entrepreneur, he was always close to his employees and shared with them both dreams and concerns, created a spirit of cohesion and made them feel more than a team: a family sharing a dream and working hard to achieve success. Not only entrepreneurs should do so: being kind and empathetic is what I try my best to do with colleagues and students that I meet every day.

Born in 1898 in a humble family in Modena, Italy, he spent his childhood and youth in his father’s workshop. He started attending car races when he was 10, but only as a teenager he realised that he wanted to be a racing car driver. It happened after looking at a picture showing Raffaele De Palma winning the 1915 Indianapolis 500. From then on, as he used to say himself, all his actions were just a consequence of that adolescent dream.

He went through hard times during the first decade of the century, lost his father and brother in the same year and was called to join the Italian army to serve the country in the First World War.

Back from the service, Enzo had to reinvent himself. The family business had collapsed, so he was literally left with no money, no job, and his life to re-build. He looked for jobs and volunteered in some mechanical factories. At the same time, he continued to nurture his dream of being a racing driver. A dream that was not easy to share though, as all the people close to him used to take a firm stand against it. Nevertheless, his passion and confidence guided him. Finally promoted, he successfully debuted as a racing car driver.


In the 20s, Enzo achieved several victories as a member of the racing department of Alfa Romeo. It was during this decade that he realised that racing cars needed innovation. Despite being in desperate need for funding, he was committed to making a change in the sector. He founded the Scuderia Ferrari in 1929. I like these words of his “It’s obvious that you have to dream [a car] first. Then you ask your co-workers if they feel they’ll be able to turn it into reality, if they share the dream of a person who wants success”. Enzo looked for the most talented and trustworthy people to work side by side. 

In 1946 the higher economic stability enabled Enzo to finally design and produce his first Ferrari-branded car: Ferrari 125. That was just the beginning: the flaming red sports car has taken part in racing competitions and exhibitions all over the world and won the Formula 1 Grand Prix so many times. Enzo’s dreams had certainly come true, and Ferrari it has dominated the car racing for half century. Enzo’s far-sightedness is still rewarded with his brand still being loved and marvelled at all around the world. He was able to turn his dream into reality, and then reality into legend, so he is considered one of the most inspirational people and entrepreneurs.”



Carlene Nancoo - Work Placement Officer, London School of Science and Technology

 Wembley Central.

I myself have faced social challenges or inequality but by following the good example of Mary has allowed me to apply her good citizenship to promote fairness and equality thorough out life balances. Mary inspires me because no matter what obstacles were before her, she never gave up and demonstrated her entrepreneurial skills and paid her way as she knew best with her healing hands. When I learned about Mary, I felt empowered, encouraged and inspired, she made me proud to be black and anything is achievable despite the discrimination and challenges in the world.

"Mary Jane Grant (Seacole) was born in Jamaica more than 200 years ago. This was during the period when many black people in the Caribbean were forced to work as slaves.

Although Mary’s mother was black, her father James Grant was a white Scottish army officer and Mary was born a ‘free person’. She had a sister, Louisa, and a brother, Edward.

She later became Mary Seacole after she married her English husband Edwin Horatio Hamilton Seacole on 10th November 1836. Sadly, Edwin died in 1844, followed closely by the death of her mother.

She learned a lot about nursing from her mother, Mary’s mother ran a hotel called Blundell Hall, which was much respected by local people in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city.

But she was also a healer and taught Mary many of her skills using traditional Jamaican medicines. it was here that she looked after lots of wounded soldiers using traditional herbal remedies which Mary picked up and developed.

By 1818, aged 12, Mary helped run the boarding house, where many of the guests were sick or injured soldiers. Three years later, she travelled to England with relatives and stayed for about a year. It was an opportunity to acquire knowledge about modern European medicine which supplemented her training in traditional Caribbean techniques.

In 1823, Mary went to London on her own, remaining there for 2 years. She experienced racist comments while in London. She describes herself as “only a little” brown, but her friend was very dark, so London boys made fun of their complexions. During 1825, her travels included Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas, returning to Kingston in 1826 to nurse her patroness in a long illness.

The Crimean War lasted from October 1853 until February 1856. It was fought by a coalition including Britain, against the Russian Empire.

Mary travelled to England and approached the British War Office, asking to be sent as an army nurse to the Crimea where she had heard there were poor medical facilities for wounded soldiers. She was refused, undaunted, she funded her own trip to Crimea. Mary nursed many soldiers in Crimea, and she became known as 'Mother Seacole' she set up the "British Hotel" which she described as "comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers".

Mary died in London in 1881. She was then lost to history for around 100 years until nurses from the Caribbean visited her grave in North West London, where the local MP, now Lord Clive Soley, promised to raise money for a statue for Mary. In 2004, Mary was voted the Greatest Black Briton. In 2016, the statue was finally unveiled in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital on London’s Southbank.

Mary Seacole's recognition is especially important for people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds who enter the health and social care professions.



Diana Cojocaru - Work Placement Officer, London School of Science and Technology.          Luton Campus

Diana, Princess of Wales was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales and the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry. I think she is an inspirational woman who continues to be a worldwide symbol of love, compassion and charity, who dedicated her life helping those in need. Her free spirit, her involvement and dedication to better the lives of many are still admired and followed. She was known and loved for her activism and glamour which earned her enduring popularity.

Following an array of royal and public duties grew Diana’s personal mission to bring monarchy into closer contact with its people, and thus Princess Diana’s work for charitable causes has become her greatest legacy, forever commemorating her as “the people’s princess”. “Helping people in need is a good and essential part of my life, a kind of destiny.” She had the ability to make everybody feel special, vulnerable young people were touched by her warmth and affection. She was not afraid to speak out and show her support of those marginalized by society by becoming actively involved in highlighting their plight. Stephen Lee, the director of the UK Institute of Charity Fundraising Managers, said “Her overall effect on charity is probably more significant than any other person’s in the 20th century.”

Her extensive charity work included campaigning for children and youth, AIDS, mental health, animal protection, fighting against the use of landmines. She was patroness of charities and organizations who worked with the homeless, youth, drug addicts and the elderly. During her marriage, she was president or patron of over 100 charities, many of which are now supported by her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. In 1988, she became patron of the British Red Cross and supported its organizations in other countries such as Australia and Canada. From 1989 she was president of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. She opened the Wolfson Children’s Cancer Unit in 1993 and represented The Royal Marsden in 1996 for a fundraising event, raising more than 1 million pounds for cancer research. She made several lengthy visits each week to Royal Brompton Hospital, where she worked to comfort seriously ill or dying patients.

She is rightly recognized and respected today as a true humanitarian.  What made her so special to millions of people was her innate ability to offer comfort to those who needed it and by always doing what she believed was right, even when it went against societal norms or royal traditions.

In her memory, The Diana Award is given out to selfless young role models who, like Diana, are transforming the lives of others and creating and sustaining positive change in their communities and around the world. There are 47.000 young people who received the award, in the late Princess’ legacy. This means a whole new generation of people carrying on her work to change the world for the better, sharing the same characteristics Diana was known for in her life: compassion and kindness.

Different role models for different folk

You will see here that the team have considered a variety of individuals from history who have made a difference to society by the way they approach both their personal and professional life. There are elements or aspects of each of these historical lives that might be unacceptable to some, but the point of a role model is that you generally emulate the ‘best bits’ of how they lived their lives. Remember no one is perfect, we just try to do the best we can, to ensure the best for our family, friend, colleagues and communities. Next blog we will consider people who currently inspire us to forge ahead with our hopes and dreams.

Next time we will look at individuals we know personally and how and why they inspire us.


Work Placement, Employability and Careers Team -

Dr Wendy Wigley: Head of LSST Student Support and Enhancement–

Daud Maroof – All campuses

Carlene Nancoo – Wembley Campus 

Diana Cojocaru – Luton Campus

Fabiana Bernardi –   Elephant and Castle Campus