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My mentoring experience: Onyinye Udokporo

Onyinye Udokporo (Religion, Politics & Society, 2019; MA Education, Policy & Society, 2020) is an entrepreneur, educator, public speaker, and pioneer of social mobility. After setting up her own tuition business aged 12, in 2018 she founded Enrich Learning, an online education platform and tuition service. She was King’s inaugural ‘Student of the Year’ in 2018. To add to her accolades, she was recently named as one of 2020’s Top 10 Black University Students by Rare Recruitment. Onyinye was mentored by Law alumnus and barrister Mark Afeeva as part of the King’s Leadership Mentoring Programme. She talks to us about the difference having a mentor has made to her.

Why did you decide to seek the help of a mentor at King's?
When I first came to King’s I was quite surprised at the relative lack of diversity in some areas. I really wanted to find someone who looked more like me and had a similar background to me – a leadership figure. I felt that if I met someone who had done well at King’s, so could I.

At the time, I was interested in becoming a barrister, so initially I tried to find a black barrister that I could contact myself, but I struggled. However, I spoke to King’s alumni office, and through their mentoring programme, they matched me with Mark Afeeva, a King’s alumnus and barrister at Matrix Chambers. He’s amazing!

When we first met it was so refreshing to hear him say, ‘you know what? You might not be at the most diverse place in the world, but it's fine. Make the most of every opportunity.’ And I felt like if he could do it, then so can I. Although I did secretly say to myself ‘make sure you do it a little bit better than how he did it!’ He'd done really well, so I knew I was setting myself a challenge.

How have you benefited from having a mentor?
I’ve benefited so much. From having my CV reviewed and corrected to having conversations about being confident and remaining focused on my studies despite getting stuck into university life positively, I’ve learnt so much. Mark shared so much advice, both personal and academic. He gave me a sense of what it’s like outside King’s and where I could get to if I worked really hard. It’s been a brilliant experience!

Why do you think having a mentor is important?
Seeing is believing. It is important to be guided. In a world that has become so digital, we need to make greater efforts to interact with human beings. Mentorship is a great way of doing this.

Mentoring is the most rewarding thing you can do for the King’s community. My mentors have really pushed me to be the best version of myself, an experience I wish everyone could have.– Onyinye Udokporo – mentee

What's been the best piece of advice your mentor has given you? What impact has this had on you?
Thanks to Mark, I now really believe in taking and making the most of every opportunity whilst you’re young. It was so hard to tell him that, after a couple of years I had changed my mind about wanting to be a barrister. I was really scared to tell him, but he was so kind. He told me that he could completely understand where I was coming from, and he helped me realign my focus and think clearly about what direction I wanted to take my career instead. He pushed me to take every opportunity with both hands.

He also continually reiterated the importance of focusing on my grades. I had a lot going on at the time. He reminded me to not lose sight of why I was at King’s in the first place and to work out when it’s time to say no and focus. I wouldn’t have done so well academically if I didn’t have someone like Mark keeping me on the straight and narrow: he’s been the angel on my shoulder reminding me to work hard!

What advice to you have for other mentees or those looking for a mentor?
Don't be afraid to ask questions - try to make these questions focused. Mentors are often busy people and don't have the time to filter through things. Prepare before meeting with your mentor so that you learn something from that meeting.

King’s Connect is really great for reaching out and making those first connections. Everyone should try it!– Onyinye Udokporo – mentee

What would you say to recommend mentoring to other alumni?
It is the most rewarding thing you can do for the King’s community. Mentoring helps to bring the younger generation up the ladder. My mentors have really pushed me to be the best version of myself, an experience I wish everyone could have.

What (or who) has had the biggest influence on you to help you achieve your success?
Sheer determination is my biggest influence, Resilience and grit. I had a tough start in life and I don't want to finish in the position that I started in.

Mark V2
Mentoring is fulfilling and can make a real difference to the career of your mentee. If we work on the basis that the reason for our being is to make a positive impact on others, then mentoring is an amazing way of being a force for good.– Mark Afeeva – mentor

What would you say to recommend our new mentoring platform, King’s Connect? It’s really great for reaching out and making those first connections. Everyone should try it.

Name: Onyinye Udokporo
Degree: Religion, Politics & Society, 2019; MA Education, Policy & Society, 2020
Where is she now? Founder of Enrich Learning
You can find Onyinye on King’s Connect

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