My dream of being a doctor.

It is my hope to continue empowering and inspiring others to overcome limitations and manifest the greatness that resides inside of them.

Leanne – Peckham, London

My story of hope is that of a 15-year-old girl with a dream. A dream of becoming a doctor, similar to Damilola Taylor’s dream.

There are many parallels between my story and Damilola Taylor’s story – we were both young people with a dream, we both grew up in Peckham, and we both experienced the trauma of a stab wound, albeit in very different ways. Damilola’s life was tragically taken because of this; whereas I indirectly experienced the trauma. Growing up I often heard about young men in the area losing their lives to a stab wound or a gun shot. However, there was one particular stabbing which changed my life forever… because it gave birth to my dream.

I was on my way home with my sister and I remember hearing the roaring propellers of a helicopter cut through the sky. Filled with excitement I asked my sister if we could watch it descend onto the grassfield where it was landing; she agreed.

On arriving at the scene, I remember being completely perplexed by what I saw. A crowd of people were gathered around, solemnly staring at the helicopter. This didn’t quite match the excitement I felt inside. I asked a lady beside me what was going on, and it was in that moment that I realised the helicopter hadn’t landed for any good reason at all, but rather, because a young man had been stabbed. This stripped me of all excitement and instead, I was filled with a deep sense of grief. When I returned home that evening, I couldn’t stop pondering over the incident in my mind. I was desperately thinking of what part I could play to help end the epidemic of gang violence plaguing my neighbourhood. Then the idea of becoming a trauma surgeon came to me – I believed it would give me a platform to speak to young men involved in gang violence, in the hope of inspiring them to be and do better.

However, in order to make strides towards this dream, there were many obstacles I would need to overcome. I grew up in a single parent home on a council estate in Peckham, a deprived area in South East London. I met my biological father for the first time at 19 years old, shortly after starting medical school. I came from a family of zero medics and out of my mother’s 5 children, only one went to university. My mother was only educated to GCSE level and did not know how to navigate the higher education system. As such, I needed to exercise great initiative, great resilience, great determination and great self-belief.

In doing this, not only have I been able to realise my dream of becoming a doctor, I have exceeded this beyond my wildest imagination. Along my journey I have met Her Majesty the Queen, met former Prime Ministers, Co-Founded a charity to help increase diversity across UK medical schools, won numerous awards and had a range of amazing public speaking opportunities. I have been able to use my voice to share my story of the power of a dream. For it was my deep yearning to achieve my dream that enabled me to dodge, jump and crush all obstacles standing in my way. It is my hope to continue empowering and inspiring others to overcome limitations and manifest the greatness that resides inside of them

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