At just 20 years old, Warwick student Izin Akhabau became the youngest person ever to broadcast on the BBC News at Ten at the end of October.
The broadcast focused on spoken word poetry, and featured an interview with spoken word poet Dylema. Izin was hand-picked by the editor of BBC News at Ten, who had watched a TedTalk on young people and media representation that Izin had given when she was just 16 years old.
In an interview with The Boar, Izin labelled her achievement as “surreal” and stated that the best part of the experience was her mother coming into the BBC studio and watching her broadcast. Izin commented that it was “a really special moment to see my mum be really proud of me.”
Izin has always been interested in writing, and decided that she wanted to be a journalist when she was 16. She was one of 3,000 people who applied for the BBC journalism apprenticeship and one of only ten people who secured a spot on the scheme. These ten people formed the first ever cohort of BBC journalism apprentices.
During the apprenticeship, Izin spent time at BBC Politics Live, BBC Radio 4, and Newsnight alongside the digital video department where she had the opportunity to pitch her own ideas and learnt to edit.
It was a really special moment to see my mum be really proud of me
To earn her apprenticeship qualification, she had to complete a multimedia piece. For this she interviewed a girl who had been refused entry into a nightclub due to a disability and carried out a wider investigation into the issue of disabled people and nightclubs.
Izin commented that this was her “own story” and underlined her interest in reporting news of people who are under-represented. She stated that she is: “Interested in telling the stories that aren’t told; the stories of people who are from poor backgrounds, or women, or people from religions we don’t hear a lot about.”
This stems from her experience volunteering in Bosnia and Herzegovina when she was 16. She believes that spending time in a country so badly affected by war and poverty inspired her to tell stories about people “we don’t usually hear from”. She commented: “That trip was important to me”.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina there is a large Romany community which faces severe hardship and discrimination in the job market. A year after completing her volunteering, Izin found out that the EU funding that allowed Romany children to go to school was being cut. The news was not widely publicised but Izin believed that it was an important story and wrote about it for the Jack Petchey Foundation, an organisation that supports young people in the UK and encourages volunteering abroad. This was one of the first articles that she wrote.
I’m interested in telling the stories that aren’t told
Following this, Izin began writing for Black Ballad, an online platform that aims to: “Elevate the voices of black British women through content, community and commerce”.
Her latest article for the publication focuses on the criminal justice system and how it treats black women. She interviewed prison officers, women in prison and a woman who reported a rape in order to gain a perspective of the experiences of black women across the criminal justice system.
Reflecting on her journalistic journey so far, Izin said she feels “very, very lucky” and credited her mentor, her mother, and editors at the BBC for encouraging her to reach her potential. She added: “I feel so nourished by so many loving people around me which gives me the confidence to try and do different things.”
Izin is currently studying Politics, International Studies and French and, alongside her degree, is involved in Warwick’s Black Women’s Project which aims to support the mental wellbeing of black female students at the University.
This year the society is launching a blog, of which Izin is set to become the editor.