Head of School at Brighton College, Shaun Pexton, has won a place on the ground-breaking inaugural Rise programme.
Shaun is one of 100 Rise Global Winners, the initiative of a pledge to ‘identify, develop and support global talent working in service of others’ made by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy.
The year-long global competition to find and fund ‘brilliant’ teenagers committed to changing the world resulted in 50,000 applications.
With only five winners from the UK, Shaun is now part of the first-ever cohort provided with access to a lifetime of benefits including mentorship, access to career development opportunities, funding and more as Global Winners work toward solving humanity’s most pressing problems.
“I was struck by the diversity of passion,” says Eric Schmidt. “Teenagers, if they’re focused, can really do amazing things.”
In applying for the programme, Shaun faced the Rise Challenge where applicants introduced themselves through videos and created an individual project that demonstrated their talents and benefitted their community.
Rise then selected 500 to advance to Finalist Days, where they demonstrated their motivations, problem-solving abilities and teamwork skills.
An initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust, every teenager who applied to Rise joins a global community of leaders and gains access to free online courses and opportunities from partners around the world.
After hearing he had been chosen to join the programme, Shaun said: "I am so honoured to have been selected as one of the first 100 Rise Global Winners!
"The programme is the first of its kind to focus on supporting 15- to 17-year-olds across the world, helping them to achieve their potential and realise their ambitions to serve their communities.
"Many of the other winners are from developing countries and are not as lucky as me, studying at Brighton College.
"There are scholarship benefits from Rise but what is very special is its great support programme, including mentorship and career guidance."
He continued: "My time at Brighton College has been amazing, having moved to Brighton four years ago from Singapore.
"The school is highly innovative with an incredibly supportive culture and an impressive extracurricular programme.
"One of my first projects at Brighton College was researching an Old Brightonian whose fall in the Second World War is commemorated in a cemetery in Singapore; this became a family effort and it was rewarding to be able to track down his descendants and send them my findings.
"This summer, I swam the English Channel in a relay with my friend Eren Guryel from Brighton College, raising £7,000 for YoungMinds mental health charity; it was a challenging experience, but we had been inspired by two teachers who had swam the Channel two years before – and we were able to beat their time!"
Shaun was an easy choice for the College to become Head of School last year, after showing through his exceptional achievements that he would be a natural for the position, taking on a leadership role, guiding and mentoring younger pupils, and to be a role model in all aspects of school life.