Femi Bola visited Year Six last week to encourage them all to be aspirational in their educational and career choices.
Femi loves reading and spoke about how reading can enrich people's lives. She recalled that the first book she saved up for was the classic 'Winnie the Pooh' by A.A. Milne.
"Qualifications are yours", she explained to the class, "worth working hard for . . . they belong to you . . . they cannot be lost under the sofa, and they will always be part of you."
Femi comes from an ordinary family who arrived as immigrants to the UK from Nigeria in 1958. No one in her family had been to University, so Femi worked really hard to be the first who did! She wanted to get to university and ended up winning a place at the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster) to study biochemistry.
Femi was the first black person to work for the Medical Research Council at their laboratory in Carshalton Beeches, and then went on to work at Great Ormond Hospital in the same department as Professor Spitz - famous for separating Siamese twins.
Her qualifications allowed her to change careers and Femi is currently the Director of Employability at the University of East London, working with students and graduates to help them make decisions about their careers.
A happy memory for her was when she got married in London. She wore a special cloth woven with love hearts, in a traditional way, for her wedding dress. Femi is a proud mother of two children: a daughter and son who both went to Lewisham schools then on to university.
In 2012, Femi was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) from Princess Anne. This was an amazing accomplishment which particularly interested Year Six. Femi assured them it is possible for them to aim high. It is well within their capabilities to achieve anything with an education and hard work.
Femi asked the class what they aspire to be. Some of the replies were - MP, surgeon, builder, footballer, lawyer, actor and architect. Femi took time to talk to children individually about their future careers.
A question and answer session followed.
"Did anyone inspire you? Matthew asked. "My Biology teacher inspired me to become educated." Femi said, and told the class that when she received her MBE she'd written to her teacher to thank her for encouraging her as a child to become educated. She remains in touch with her now.
"How did you know what you wanted to be?" Cameron asked. Femi said that you have to follow your interests which will lead you on the right path, study hard and read. Femi added that she also encourages people listen to the radio as it helps your imagination. When you listen to the radio you find out many interesting things from around the world.
"Did your parents want you have a certain job?" Martha asked. Femi replied that her parents expected her to do well at school and to work hard. From her dedication and hard work came, in due course, the recognition and achievement.
Year Six thanked Femi for her inspiring talk, and hoped she might find time next year to come back and see how well they have done in their end of year tests.