Whether studying, working, campaigning or performing, SOAS graduates go on to do many amazing things, all over the world. Many of them use what they’ve learned at SOAS to make the world a better place, some start their own businesses , and others go on to careers in well-known organisations. A SOAS education teaches students to think about things differently, and our alumni use their unique SOAS experience to inform their future.
We’re pretty proud of all our alumni – but we can’t possibly tell you about what amazing things they’ve all gone on to do. So here are five we think you should know about.
Singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey graduated from BA Music Studies in 2007. Initially, Nick was part of Portico Quartet – a group formed at SOAS – and they were nominated for the Mercury Awards in 2008. Nick then left the band to go solo, receiving a Mercury nomination in 2014 for the album ‘First Mind’.
Nick has previously mentioned how he loved his time at SOAS, broadening his horizons to even play the Congolese guitar at his final performance before graduating. Nick has gone on to have a successful music career going on to release a second album, ‘Wake Up Now’, in 2017, and since then has also released the singles Myela (about the European migrant crisis) and Mountain to Move.
Ramla has just come back from the Tokyo Olympics representing Somalia, where she made history as the first ever woman from her country to compete in boxing at the Olympics
Featherweight boxer and SOAS alumna Ramla Ali from Bethnal Green only took on her first professional fight in November 2020. Ramla, who obtained a first-class law degree at SOAS, is the first female Muslim to become British Boxing Champion.
But Ramla’s achievements don’t stop there. She’s also the founder of Sisters Club, which gives self defence lessons to women, and on top of that has committed to give 25% of her takings as a boxing professional to Black Lives Matter charities. To add another string to her bow, Ramla is also a model, starring most recently in Coach’s campaign with Paris Hilton, Michael B Jordon and J Lo. Ramla has even managed to fit in time to write a novel, Not Without A Fight: Ten Steps to Becoming Your Own Champion.
Singer-songwriter Poppy Ajudha studied BA Social Anthropology and Music, and as well as producing incredible music, is also the face of Nike’s womenswear and has recently stood in for Mary Anne Hobbs presenting BBC Radio 6 Music. Poppy is certainly going places, demonstrated by winning Jazz FM’s ‘Best Soul Act’ in 2019.
In an interview with the ‘Evening Standard’, Poppy thanked SOAS for changing the way she thinks about the world. This has been reflected in her songwriting, such as her reference to mixed-race identity in her song ‘Tepid Soul’. Further influences on Poppy’s music can be traced back to studying music from all over Africa, leading her to visit Senegal and The Gambia during her studies at SOAS.
There is currently a gaping hole in history lessons at school level — Black history just doesn’t seem to feature. Former SOAS student Lavinya Stennett, who graduated with a First Class degree in BA African Studies and Development Studies, wants this to change.
After graduating from SOAS, Lavinya launched a social enterprise called The Black Curriculum (TBC) — this organisation does what it says in the tin — but also so much more. The Black Curriculum seeks to incorporate arts focused Black history into the curriculum for students aged 8-16, with the aim of increasing understanding and social cohesion. The Black Curriculum is growing – and support for it is rising too, with more people realising the importance of expanding the scope of what is taught in schools today.
Maro Itoje is pretty big in the world of sport, playing for the England national rugby team as well as English championship club, Saracens. Maro studied BA Politics at SOAS, completing his degree whilst training and competing in London.
Professional athlete Maro is a strong believer in social justice and equality, and during the UK’s lockdown, he campaigned to provide laptops to pupils disadvantaged by the ‘digital divide’.
Maro also recently opened his first exhibition in partnership with curator Lisa Anderson at the Signature African Art Gallery. The exhibition, ‘A History Untold’, features new work by six African and Diaspora artists. Maro is a strong advocate for education and a patron of The Black Curriculum, and the exhibition was inspired by his personal experience of schooling on Black history.
Inspired? Take a look at our undergraduate degrees, and apply to be part of the SOAS community.