BRED IN SOUTHWARK
Ambition comes from a plethora of places. It’s Saturday afternoon and as is usually the case in London we’ve been greeted with an erratic spell of rain. Nestled in the corner of a Nandos we decide to kill two birds with one stone: Eat and talk. I’ve known Ivan since my first year of sixth form – so I was quite interested in understanding where his ambition and determination stemmed from – a determination that ultimately sees him studying to be a doctor at UCL Medical School while balancing his own social enterprise. “I hated the fact that I was in a one-bedroom flat. I hated the fact that my parents had to work super hard for not much.”
He recounts his childhood with positive memories. Primary school was an enjoyable experience and his natural curiosity led him to excel in school and venture far beyond the boundaries of the national curriculum. “I remember I was into Greek mythology, I loved the stories and the artwork. It’s weird but I liked it so much.” He however, does remember the financial restraints that were imposed on his family and the limitations they caused him. “Money was a conversation in my house everyday. It was tiring”. Ivan wasn’t fazed by certain things. But during his childhood he recounts not being afforded some of the luxuries others had. “We never went on a holiday until I was in year 8 – the income couldn’t go towards that.” He lets me know that the inability to do certain things made him very keen on exploring the opportunities available to him once he got to Secondary school.
Ivan excelled during secondary school and remembers it as one of the most exciting times of his life thus far. He was clearly ahead of the curve taking steps towards his goal of becoming a surgeon. A mindset which followed him to sixth form – “I knew every aspect of getting into medical school – I studied the application process to a T”. I had seen a few friends go through the ordeal but never thought to further stress them with particular questions. Ivan explains the interesting, but daunting process. “The medicine personal statement is a lot different from other personal statements . As well as trying to explain why you want to study medicine as an academic discipline your vocational aspirations for becoming a doctor also has to shine through.”
Ivan’s hard work in both secondary and sixth form didn’t go unnoticed. Achieving a stellar set of results along the way which all culminated in Ivan being awarded a place to study at the world-renown UCL Medical School. Although, his friends and family were happy for him, he lets me know that the offer he received upset him slightly. “UCL gave me a deferred entry and I got the feeling, which looking back was stupid, that I wasn’t good enough.” He lets me know that all his friends going for medicine received offers to study the subject without deferred entry. As he speaks I’m reminded of Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech about only understanding life looking back; the ability to see that some things that seemed to be setbacks actually turn out to be our greatest opportunities. This clearly turned out to be the case for Ivan as it was during the gap year that UCL offer afforded him that Ivan birthed his social enterprise – Limitless.
During Ivan’s gap year he volunteered with City Year – a youth and education charity which helps place people in schools across England. It was while volunteering, Ivan saw there was a need for students to be educated about the endless possibilities ahead of them – possibilities that when coupled with hard work and a clear goal could allow them to achieve their wildest dreams. “I was volunteering in class one day and thought what can I do to help students achieve their highest potential. I wanted to see more people from south London go to the Olympics, I wanted kids in Lambeth to believe there was no reason why they couldn’t be an astronaut.” Ivan found a friend who had a similar commitment to social issues. They shared similar insights in regards to the importance of personal confidence. They saw educational achievement as a key priority. After days of intense planning Limitless came into being.
Since it’s foundation in July 2014, Limitless has been growing from strength to strength in its first academic year. I asked Ivan about what his highlights have been with Limitless thus far, he provided (as usual) a superb answer:
“I am super excited about having put together a team of people I respect and that I learn from everyday. Everyday we attempt to create meaningful impact through the work that we do. That’s what’s been amazing. I remember one student asking me about starting a career in fashion and that was amazing to me because I might have been the first person she felt able to take about this. So I’m going to be supporting her with mentors to help fulfil that ambition.”
BELIEVING IN BETTER
Ivan has recently finished interning at Outcomes Based Healthcare, a medical startup company seeking to revolutionise patient medication schedules for the NHS. With almost half of all adults in the UK taking prescription drugs, Ivan and his team at are working to create an application that will manage the medication of patients. An app that will give people reminders at the suggested intervals to take the medication they have been prescribed. He reminds me of the importance of networking by noting the way he managed to secure his current stint. “My internship didn’t exist before I asked.” We share experiences of how actively seeking opportunities has aided our respective professional lives and allowed us to have experiences that will come to shape, define and characterise us for a lifetime.
It’s amazing see a medical student so up to date with the latest happenings in the world of entrepreneurship and technology. I ask Ivan for his favourite entrepreneur and he provides a name that is only recognisable if you hold an active interest in the world of Silicon Valley. “Tristan Walker, I like the way in which he uses technology to answer some of his community’s problems. That’s what technology should be about – helping to make life easier and manageable for people.” I do my research on Tristan Walker and I find his work inspiring. After carving a lucrative career on Wall Street, he left it all behind to found his own company – Walker & Company. Part of the collective includes the Bevel blade – the first and only end to end shaving system designed to help reduce razor bumps and irritation. A particular problem that the African American male populace faces when using mainstream shaving equipment.
“My signature fade with the Bevel blade. That’s a major key.” – Nas
Following my prompts regarding his future ambitions; Ivan lets me know that he does not aim to be a conventional doctor. Ivan is a strong proponent of carving out your own career and niche. “When thinking about my future career aspirations I had to ask myself: what does medicine mean for me?” He seeks to continue developing his curiosity and interest in technology whilst combine those with his love for medicine. “My aim is to incorporate everyday technology with currently sophisticated medicinal techniques.” We then speak about FitBit and the future of medicinal technology. “I think the way technology is heading there’s no reason why we can’t have a bracelet that will holistically assess our health.”
From Ivan’s drive in secondary school, to his continual commitment to self-improvement and passion for his social enterprise, I take notes of his experiences, in admiration. As we speak, I’m inspired to dream more, learn more and do more. It is then I become reminded of the quote by John Quincy Adams and understand that I am, indeed, in the presence of a leader.
Ivan Beckley x Kings Place