Student Spotlight: Johannah Fening

“Arrival Education is a life-changing organisation for young people,” Johanna

Johannah is a graduate of our 4-year social mobility programme, Success for Life, which she joined in 2008. Read about Johannah’s experience of the programme.

Where did you grow up? What was it like?

I was born, raised and went to school in Croydon. At the time, the secondary school I attended had a very bad reputation in the borough. I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but years 7 to 11 were one of the worst periods of my life. I went through a lot of difficulties finding myself socially, working out my identity and defending myself from the horrible kids.

Within my environment, no-one had big ideas, big solutions or big dreams. I also didn’t know much about the world outside Croydon at the time, only what I saw on television, and what life was like in Ghana for my family holidays. I certainly didn’t know anyone who worked in the corporate world, or what it was like!

What did do you as part of the Arrival Education programme?

I was introduced to the corporate world through the Success for Life programme.

We attended sessions and workshops which took place in central London in well-known, successful companies. Being in that environment at that young age was eye-opening for me.

The programme taught us essential success skills that I needed to develop while pushing me out of my comfort zone. By the time I was 15, I was leading my peers to run projects within our community, to help make a positive impact in our school – something I would never have thought I would be doing at that age.

What has been the impact on you & your life from working with Arrival Education?

Arrival Education opened doors to so many opportunities for me:

  • I was part of the Green Talent Fellowship, a programme run in partnership with The Eden project down in Cornwall
  • I secured my first paid job with Arrival Education as a peer mentor
  • I was coached by professionals at Endemol, Kerry Foods and Skanska – spending 9 months at each corporation
  • I secured work experience opportunities with Endemol and worked on film sets
  • I ran workshops with younger students about what I learned
  • I attended networking events with extremely senior people
  • I have had access to graduate jobs opportunities and major corporate firms

Alongside all of that, Arrival Education has also given me a greater appreciation of social enterprise and inspired me to start one myself my own in my community!

Looking back, what was it about working with Arrival Education that helped you most?

Daniel and Emily [the Arrival Education directors] really believed in me from the beginning. They both reflect the hard work, big ideas and big solutions that they encourage! They constantly checked in with me and my progress, continuing to offer me opportunities even after I graduated from the initial programme Success for Life.

They also really know what they are talking about! Their workshops are full of insightful gems, encouragement and transparency. I always left sessions feeling excited about my future. Arrival Education gave me a safe space to grow and develop outside a school/college/university environment with support, unlimited resources, and connections.

How different could your life have been if you hadn’t taken part in the Success for Life programme?

It could have been very different. I could have remained as just an average student, with limited ambitions, comfortable in my comfort zone of mediocrity.

What are you doing now? What are your hopes for your future?

Last year I started a Christian-based coaching programme called Big Sister Ministries, connecting young females with graduates for growth, development and support during university. The intent and structure of this programme was inspired by the coaching programmes that I have been a part of with Arrival Education over the years. I would love the young girls we minister and mentor to grow up to be ministers and mentors themselves, passing down knowledge and sharing experiences that we helped them with.

I also currently work at a multi-award winning architectural practice in Essex as a Part 1 Architect and will be continuing my studies in Architecture with a masters at Oxford Brookes in September 2018.

In the future, I hope to make a significant contribution to reducing poverty in Africa by using my architectural skills to design and build sustainable communities.

What would you say about Arrival Education to someone who had never heard of us?

Arrival Education is a life-changing organisation for young people. The impact they have made and are currently making to so many young people’s lives, especially of the Black, Asian minority ethnic groups, is outstanding.

They have helped many students find employment, work experience, connections and coaches which are all very important. They genuinely care about equipping young people with skills that aren’t hugely available to people like myself.