Art & Culture

Five people who made an impact in 2019

This year delivered us individuals whose integrity, resilience and talent served as an inspiration to others - here's our round up of who's who.

Amidst the quagmire of social injustice we’re currently floating about in, sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to create any real change. Without any positive role models, we can feel like any resistance is futile and end up leaving the system unchallenged. Thankfully, however, 2019 did deliver us individuals whose integrity, resilience and talent served as an inspiration to others.

Whether it was a teenager spearheading a climate justice movement, a congresswoman taking one of the world’s most important billionaires to task, or a rapper seriously upping the number of BAME applicants to Cambridge 2019 proved that people really can make a difference.


Between climbing the charts with “Vossi Bop”, releasing his second album Heavy is the Head and delivering a politically-charged Glastonbury performance, 2019 has been a busy year for Stormzy. It feels like he’s never been off our minds but one of his achievements this year stands out above all others. In a development dubbed “the Stormzy effect”, his fully-funded scholarship to the University of Cambridge has led to record numbers of Black British students applying for undergrad admission. If anything proves the power of representation, it’s this.

Greta Thunberg

Founding the Fridays for Future movement, this Scandinavian teen got a whole legion of school kids skipping their Friday classes to protest the ways that politicians mistreat our planet. Demanding greater accountability and transparency from governments, she’s empowered a whole generation to fight the power and switch to veganism. Can Saint Greta can save us? Only time will tell.

Dianne Abbott

Shadow Home Secretary, Cambridge graduate and the first Black woman to become an MP, Dianne Abbott is a woman of many great achievements. In October 2019, she became the first BAME MP to represent their party on Question Time — highlighting not only the white bias of the UK media, but the lack of representation of ethnic minorities in British politics generally. Let’s hope we hear more of her in 2020.

Hunter Schafer

Did you catch Euphoria this year? We most certainly did and were stuck by one performance above all others: that of model Hunter Schafer, who plays everyone’s favourite manic pixie dream girl Jules. Improving trans representation with an understated sense of naturalism, she’s an icon for Gen Z youth looking for queer role models. Roll on Euphoria season two!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

After becoming elected as an NYC congresswoman in 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spent 2019 speaking out against climate change and proposing that the US tackle its social inequality by taxing the uber-rich (a woman after our own hearts). Her biggest moment of the year came in October, when she grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over Cambridge Analytica and left him visibly shaking in his boots. Thanks to AOC, the sound of billionaires squirming is probably an ASMR subgenre by now — and that’s something we should all be grateful for.

31 December 2019