Carlos Navarrete Leon moved to the UK in 2020 to study for his PhD in Medical Physics at University College London. He is part of a team of scientists who aim to develop the next generation of X-ray technology for applications in a wide range of fields including medicine, security, manufacturing and aerospace.
Carlos joined The Brilliant Club as a PhD tutor in 2021 and has delivered Scholars Programme and Brilliant Tutoring Programme placements at Ormiston Forge Academy, Kingsley Academy, London Academy and Lammas School and Sixth Form, working with over 30 students in the last year.
Tackling Educational Inequality
Growing up in Colombia, Carlos was very aware of educational inequality. When he moved to the UK, he was surprised to find out that educational inequality is also something that still remains to be tackled here as well.
“For a long time, I’ve been particularly interested in using education and academia to solve inequalities and close gaps between different communities. Both in Colombia and in the UK, a young person’s background has a huge influence on where they end up. You see that universities can be a very homogenous community with people from similar backgrounds.”
Carlos wanted to use his position as an academic to inspire young people to learn more about science and consider going to competitive universities, regardless of their background.
Supporting The Brilliant Club in the classroom…
Carlos has found that PhD life can be quite isolating at times and believes that it’s important to not lose the ability to connect and communicate with different audiences as you work on your project. The Brilliant Club allows him to engage with students in a structured and accessible way.
“As a scientist, I like that there are metrics to measure success against. You can quantify the impact that you are having for the students you work with, but there is still space for creativity and you can add your own skills and knowledge.”
He explains that the most rewarding part of being a PhD tutor is going into schools and connecting with diverse groups of students.
“There are many little moments that make it worth it – when you see students becoming more curious about the course, when they go beyond and come back to you with lots of additional questions, when you can see that they are inspired and start discussions with you about science and university.”
… and on the track
In addition to supporting young people directly as a PhD tutor, this year Carlos also challenged himself to run a half marathon to raise money in aid of The Brilliant Club.
“Aside from my PhD, the other side of my life is sports and racing. This was my first race in the UK and I knew I wanted set myself a goal to fundraise for charity. Having already seen the impact of The Brilliant Club first-hand in the students I’ve worked with, I truly believe in what the charity does. This motivated me to fundraise in a way that other causes wouldn’t have.”
Carlos ran in the Hackney Half marathon and raised over £400 to support The Brilliant Club’s work with young people. He even shaved 5 minutes off his expected race time!
“If you believe in the power of education to improve inequalities, particularly if you’ve been a tutor for The Brilliant Club and love the work you’ve done, I think that fundraising is really rewarding. It’s amazing to set yourself goals and race against your limits. I would encourage anyone to get involved!”
Interview by Hannah Lear, Senior Fundraising Officer.