The power of role models

At Future First, we know that role models make a meaningful and lasting impact on young people’s lives.

We build alumni networks in state schools around the UK, connecting former students and other role models with schools to help motivate, encourage, and challenge children’s perceptions of their own ability and expectations for the future.

Anyone can be a role model – a success story isn’t always about achieving straight As and getting the top job. Our alumni volunteers come from all walks of life and have often taken an interesting route to get to where they are today.

Alumni can prove to students that ‘someone like me’ can succeed and scientific evidence suggests that role models really do shape perceptions and life paths.

The science behind role models

Psychologist and award-winning author Fiona Murden has written one of the first books on the importance of role models through the exploration of the brain’s ‘mirror neuron’ and the mirror system – the part of the brain that shapes who we are through our interactions and mirroring of others. In Mirror Thinking – How Role Models make Us Human Fiona explains that “all of the learning we take from our world is down to our brain’s mirror system” which is why the presence of role models in our lives is so important. Basically, we copy what we see. Fiona champions role models, explaining: “Where our attention is directed and what we absorb can dramatically impact our life outcomes… our financial income, social status, life expectancy [and] quality of life”.

At Future First, we aim to empower students to leverage this mirror system to their advantage, placing them in direct contact with relatable role models.

Listen to the introduction to Fiona Murden’s Mirror Thinking

Fiona explains how role models change our lives

Fiona interviews Dr Martens CEO, Kenny Wilson, to find out what makes him tick, who influenced him, how they influenced him and what makes a great leader.

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