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Croydon University students hear inspirational talk from Enfield mayor

27th October 2020
University Centre Croydon (UCC) students have heard from one of London’s inspirational mayors as part of Black History Month and Higher Education Enrichment Week (12-16 October).

Organised by the Public Health and Social Care Programme of UCC, 60 students gathered virtually to hear from Councillor Kate Anolue, Mayor of Enfield, who was inspiring public health students preparing to go into the healthcare profession.

Cllr Anolue, known as Auntie Kate, was introduced to the session by esteemed Programme Leader Dr Pauline Aweto.

Cllr Anolue is the oldest of seven children and was born in Nigeria and worked as a trader during the civil war, which enabled her to provide for her family.

In May 1971 she moved to England to meet her husband whom she had an arranged marriage, but only on the condition she could continue studying, as she was one year from completing a teacher training course when she got her visa. Cllr Anolue immediately got into nursing and was training in hospital within a year, while also becoming a mother for the first time.

When she was pregnant with her second child she passed her midwifery course. Shortly after the birth of her fourth child, her husband died and Cllr Anolue was now a single mother. But with the help of her friends she was able to continue her career and support her children.

“I was left with four children. What do I do? Do I sit at home and look after the kids with two certificates or do I look into another area where I can go ahead and make sure my children have what they would have had with two parents?”

And when her youngest child asked if she had always wanted to be a nurse Cllr Anolue realised, she still had something to do – become a lawyer. 

Cllr Anolue said she had ‘the best of her years’ studying the law course, which she passed in 1997. In 2002 she was elected as a councillor for Upper Edmonton, and got involved in tackling domestic violence, as well as remaining involved in her community. In 2008 she was given freedom of the borough, and was selected as mayor for 2012-13. And despite taking a break from politics, she was re-selected, elected again and became the only African woman to become mayor of the same authority twice.

Cllr Anolue said: “My profession is nursing but empowering women is my utmost aim. 

“Nothing is impossible. It’s the way you think and the way you carry yourself. Your mind is an amazing thing. It can tell you can’t do it and you give up. When it says you can do it you can open up.

“You must always be positive about yourself.”

Commenting on what has helped her do the things she has done, Cllr Anolue said self-love, self-discipline, determination and self-trust were all key qualities.

Miemie Neethling-Taylor, Head of Higher Education at Croydon College, said: “What an inspiration you are to us. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being an inspiration. We will not be empty vessels.”

Students used the Zoom chat function to thank Cllr Anolue for taking the time to speak to them, with comments including: “Thank you Mayor Kate for sharing your fantastic life stories. An absolutely awesome person. I will take away so much from your advice,” “Thank you for inspiring us, you are thoroughly a hero. We have learned so much, I am privileged to have this opportunity to hear your life story,” and “You have ignited something in me. I feel so important. I feel as I matter all through your words. Thank you.”

Cllr Anolue closed the speech saying she was looking forward to visiting the college when restrictions were relaxed enough to allow it, and said: “Please, please be positive about yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.

“Trust yourself, believe in yourself and never ever give up.”

For more information please visit www.croydon.ac.uk

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