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HLA Scholar named one of the UK’s Top 150 African and African Caribbean Future Leaders 2021/22


A pioneering Healthcare Leadership Scholar (HLA) has been named as one of the UK’s Top 150 African and African Caribbean Future Leaders 2021/22 in the Future Leaders magazine.

Twenty-one year old Ellen Nelson-Rowe, a medical student at Cardiff University, and a scholar on the HLA programme, has been listed as one of the country’s most outstanding African Caribbean students and new graduates, which is used as a role model guide to inspire and raise attainment.

Ellen is among the final 150 students selected to be featured in the publication. She joins 28 other students who have topped this year’s prestigious Medicine category.

For a student to qualify for the Future Leaders list they must be of African or African Caribbean heritage, 25 years-of-age or under, in university education in the UK and currently on a 60 per cent or above grade average. In addition, they must be doing something exceptional outside of their studies which marks them out as a person of distinction. 

For Ellen, it was her entrepreneurship that impressed her peers, earning her a nomination, and place on the list. Following her successful run as President of the African Caribbean Medical Association at Cardiff University 2020-21, a role which she used to influence change within the medical school, she was then invited to become a student representative for the Race Access and Success Collaborative Project, a HEFCW-funded enhancement programme to progress race equality within higher education. In this position, she has contributed to work towards updating the university’s race equality action plans.


Speaking about her achievement, Ellen commented: “It feels exciting to be recognised for my impact in my leadership journey so far. As president of the African Caribbean Medical Association, I was able to influence the initiation of a Student-Staff Race Equality Task force to address needs of race and diversity at the medical school, coming off the back of the tragic death of George Floyd." 

“This working group has contributed to updating the raising concerns policy, decolonising the curriculum, producing a Black History month calendar event and an inaugural 2-day Race-Awareness Day. Alongside a colleague, I delivered workshops for staff and students on integrating cultural competence in the workplace. This has also influenced university level attainment gap working groups.”



Ellen now hopes to continue developing her leadership and management skills as she begins her career in Medicine. She was recently accepted on the Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA) Scholar programme – a prestigious scholarship set up to develop and nurture healthcare leaders of the future. The 12-month programme recognises healthcare students and professionals with proven leadership ability and gives them the opportunity to take their leadership skills to the next level.

As part of their role, Scholars are expected to develop a community project over the course of the one-year programme, with previous projects having reached national prominence, winning prizes, publications and presentations at national events including at the House of Lords.

Speaking about Ellen’s achievement Dr Johann Malawana from the HLA said:  “This is a fantastic achievement for Ellen and everyone at the HLA is very proud of her. Ellen is passionate about aspiring black GCSE and A level students and is working hard to inspire the next generation of leaders.  I hope her success will help encourage others to consider medicine or other healthcare programmes as a career. There is a great disparity of senior black leaders in the NHS, but that should not be a barrier to put them off aspiring to their goals.”



Future Leaders, which has been running for 13 years, is an annual publication profiling 150 of the most outstanding black university students in Britain. It is aimed at secondary school sixth-form, college and university students and is used as a role model guide to inspire and raise attainment. 

The 2020-21 edition of Future Leaders can be read online here.

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