Shaun Wallace shared his central message about individual success and aspects of his career as a Lawyer and TV Personality with GSM London student on Monday 26 November. Shaun addressed a packed room at the Career Zone in GSM London’s Greenwich campus, talking about his early life and overcoming early stumbling blocks in academia and the job market, whilst chasing his dream of becoming a lawyer. Drawing on the lessons he’d learned going from resitting O-levels and A-level to being the 2004 Mastermind Champion and practising for 34 years at the bar he said “You always shape your own destiny. No matter what part of your life you are at. You still have control.”
Speaking in the Careers Zone facility at the Greenwich Campus Library, Shaun explained how from a young age he drew a link between the actions of his black heroes Muhammed Ali, Pele, Harriet Tubman, and Nelson Mandela, and taking pride in his skin at a time when a young black man growing up in Wembley would encounter overt racism routinely. In addition to abuse, Shaun had to contend with the low expectations some of his teachers had for a young black male student. At the age of 12 he wrote to a local barrister to say he wanted to be a lawyer when he grew up, and asking about the qualifications that were required. The letter he received in reply he used to guide his future subject choices as well as taking it with him to career advice appointments.
Building on the theme of black excellence he recalled how after passing the bar he hung a picture of himself graduating next to the mural of his heroes he kept in the attic of the family home. When his friends asked him how he could possibly put himself next to his heroes, Shaun quipped “If you can’t be a hero in your own house, where can you be?”
Wallace related how he’d been engaged in teaching at night schools in Hackney for 14 years, and felt that as he achieved success it was critical that he try to “let down the ladder of opportunity” for other people of colour by demonstrating that academic and professional success was possible outside of the fields of sports, music, and entertainment. He encouraged the students at GSM London to look to the future and commit to pursuing their chosen goals rather than follow paths set by other people. “The only reason I’m like this is because of my love of education, and my love of learning. I’m a lawyer first and foremost, a TV personality second.” Despite his success he emphasised that a strong work ethic is a universal in achieving success “Every success brings you to the start point of another challenge.”
Shaun was not shy about emphasising his own hard work and personal success, coming equipped with a highlights reel of his television quiz career and stories about overcoming the loss of a full draft of his book. He was also very clear that his personal success rested on the back of a team effort “I didn’t do this all on my own, and I’m not going to stand here and say that I did. You need to have that support network in place.” He cited his family as a long-term source of support and when he was introduced to the room he thanked his friends Varina Glanville, an Oil and Gas Management Student who put him in touch with the event organiser Emma Adeleye at GSM Careers & Employability, and GSM Lecturer in Law Dominic Carrington who was the host for the event.
You can read about Shaun’s life in Chasing the Dream available to order now.
If you are thinking about chasing your own bold dreams then GSM London can help. Come and sit with one of our course advisers who can help set you on your own journey of success.