Empowered By Vee

May 24, 2023

Vee (Varaidzo) Kativhu is a 24 years old Girls’ Education Activist and Study focused YouTuber. She uses her numerous online platforms to support over 300,000 underrepresented youth to reach their full academic potential. As the Founder of her non-profit organisation, Empowered By Vee, she is also providing academic empowerment skills to students who feel unsupported by running her renowned skill based workshops in schools and universities around the world.

This story took place in United Kingdom

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As a girl born and raised in a lower income and single parent household, I was introduced early on to gender inequality and have witnessed the generational disadvantage it creates for girls; thus after gaining admission and experiencing a unique educational experience at Oxford University, I was inspired to begin advocating for access to education for underrepresented groups within society. As a student ambassador I got to provide guidance, tutoring sessions, and hosting workshops on how to pursue further study for thousands of students in high schools and universities across the UK and thus it became a deep rooted passion.

This voluntary experience as an ambassador became the key source of inspiration for the launch of my academic empowerment platform, Empowered By Vee, a non-profit organisation that works to make higher education accessible for students of underrepresented backgrounds.

Empowered By Vee is an academic empowerment platform that provides resources for students of underrepresented backgrounds in order of making higher education more accessible. At Empowered By Vee, we focus on measuring the immeasurable we support our students by centering our resources solely on their personal development. We run our Empowerment Workshops throughout the year at local high schools and universities in the U.K.The workshops act as a step-by-step guide for the students to help them navigate their education and encourage them to seek help from the external resources around them. We largely focus on topics such as rejection, failure, imposter syndrome, university applications, mental health, and academic ownership. The workshops have proven popular amongst our students with 98% rating our workshops as 5/5 on their level of resourcefulness. We also provide our community members with a bi-monthly newsletter containing academic resources and wellness measures that encourage healthy learning habits for students across the globe. Our flagship Annual Academic Empowerment Conference brings together students of underserved communities and provides them with the opportunity to interact with academic experts and seek advice on the barriers preventing their access to higher education.

For my efforts and drive to create change through my online and in person communities, I was awarded the Future Leaders award by the UK Prime Minister; the Rare Rising Stars award by members of UK Parliament; the Diversity & Equalities Champion award by the Vice-Chancellor; and the Princess Diana Legacy Award, the highest accolade a young person aged 9-25 can receive for their social action or humanitarian work.  

My time spent studying International Education Policy at Harvard University for my masters degree encouraged me to reimagine innovative solutions for the current global education crisis we are witnessing. While writing my final research paper, in collaboration with the Centre for Global Development, I explored institutions of power and influence within education policy by coding World Bank and FCDO documents to learn about the impact of donor investments on female education over the past 20 years. The results were disappointing as I discovered that many of the programmes created did not include training on gender based violence, female specific programmes that helped girls remain in school or feeding programmes that addressed the poverty crisis in many of their families. This motivated me to want to hold a leadership position in an international organisation that addresses such systemic conflicts in education.

My recent role as a Sustainable Development Goals Young Leader at the United Nations has re-energised my work as the founder of Empowered By Vee and given me access to resources that I previously did not. This voluntary role allows me to continue the work of championing girls’ education by advocating for goals 4 & 5, Quality Education and Gender Equality. This experience is highlighting to me the urgency of this work on a local and global scale and is thus encouraging me to continue advocating for government funding for education around the world.

I am currently preparing for postgraduate study where I intend to write my dissertation on the evergrowing issues of access to education for disadvantaged and marginalised communities and to further improve my work at Empowered By Vee. I want to explore the impact that a lack of youth empowerment, academic support and predetermined systems that exclude contextualisation has on these communities and how their exclusion from higher education affects society overtime. During my doctorate I want to learn how to use administrative and research based resources to create innovative solutions for schools to deal with issues such as classroom size, poverty, technology and parental involvement. It is this intersectional training and practical research which will prepare me for my future endeavours in a senior role in education leadership.

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