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Home > News and views > Miles Contreras-Brown

Miles Contreras-Brown

Miles, an alumnus of our Secondary School Exchange, is a committee member (one of our youngest) of the London branch.

Why did you join the ESU?
I joined in 2016 after I had been awarded the Secondary School Exchange (SSE) scholarship to attend an American boarding school and naturally thought it would be a good idea to become a member.

Tell us about your SSE experience.
I attended Culver Academies during my gap year. As a high school military academy in rural Indiana, surrounded by hundreds of miles of cornfields, it is probably not many people’s ideas of a gap year… and to be honest I freaked out when I was matched up: communal showers at 6am, shortly followed by marching to breakfast in full uniform didn’t exactly thrill me. But my conceptions were fortunately grossly misplaced, and I had the most phenomenal time and made loads of friends across America and the globe.

What is your role for the ESU now?
As well as being on the committee of the London branch, I’m a member of the shiny new Oracy Group subcommittee. I also help with the production of the London branch newsletter and hope to be involved with the newly proposed Youth Committee in an advisory capacity. I’m also really looking forward to tomorrow’s event with Maryam Pasha – the director and curator of TEDx London – which I am co-hosting with fellow young member Serena Parekh.

How are you finding it?
Great! I had very little knowledge about the inner workings of the ESU before I became a committee member and have been completely blown away by the dedication of the hundreds of volunteers who work tirelessly to promote the ESU’s mission.

What words of advice do you have for other alumni/young members?
There has never been a better time to get involved with the ESU! The winds of renewal and change are blowing through the ESU as we exit from the pandemic, giving rise to exciting initiatives to get involved in. My only advice is to take the plunge. You decide whether to dip only your toe or to dive in headfirst. Remember, everyone at the ESU will be there to support you.

Whom do you admire and why?
Graham Norton – his ability to bring together quite nervous or shy people who often don’t know one another and then instigate entertaining conversation is simply beyond belief.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
I can’t believe I am actually making this public, but I really enjoy anime.

Tell us something surprising about you.
My usual answer would be that I attended a military academy in America… I suppose another would be: I always set timers on my phone – around 20-30 a day! My boyfriend and flatmates think I am crazy, but I just like not needing to worry about the time.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
I’m going to have to give two:
1) Education is freedom, and
2) Bringing energy to the table is infectious.

Find out more about how you can become a member here.

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