Sibling support

  • 01 November 2022

A competitive spirit spurred Layo Akinola (English 2021) on to apply to Gonville & Caius, which was familiar as her brother’s College.

Like her eldest brother Dipo (Economics 2013), Layo attended Ashmole Academy in north London, a University of Cambridge Link Area for Caius. She visited the College on a school trip, but was already well aware of it from accompanying her brother at the start and end of terms.

“My brother went to Caius as well and matriculated when I was in Year 6. For me it wasn’t really about applying to Oxbridge; it was always about applying to Caius,” she says.

“I had been to Caius a lot, moving my brother in and out, and visiting him. I was familiar with the city and the College. I looked at two other central colleges, but from the point of view I had growing up I always wanted to choose Caius.”

There was no nepotism, although Dipo admits his direction proved influential.

He says: “Caius was very welcoming, which was something which stood out for me. That was another reason I suggested Caius. I never felt uncomfortable at Caius.

“I still remember the day I got my offer letter from Cambridge. There’s no feeling like it. I was so happy and proud when Layo got the email.”

Layo is the youngest of three siblings. Tunji, her brother, took a different route, now playing football for Partick Thistle, having been a member of the academy at West Ham United.

Three young children

“My work ethic is inspired by my two older brothers,” adds Layo, pictured front with Tunji, left, and Dipo, right.

“My brothers are ridiculously smart, so I had big shoes to fill. I’m quite a competitive person and when I saw my brothers’ GCSE results I thought ‘I have to do better’.”

Dipo gave Layo honest advice about Caius, about the adjustment from comprehensive school to the workload as a Cambridge undergraduate.

“He said it would be tough, but I would get used to it, and he was completely right,” Layo adds.

“Throughout first year I found my footing. He helped me a lot – it felt like I had my own personal advisor, which was really nice.”

A prize giving with one person shaking another's hand on a stage

Dipo was guest of honour at the Ashmole Academy prize giving, presenting his sister with an award

Layo is also grateful to her College mother, Famke, and father, Josh. College families are odd concepts, as many students admit, but they can provide valuable peer support for academic and pastoral needs.

Layo was the Gonville and Caius Students’ Union freshers’ representative this year, and has now been elected as Vice President. She welcomed new students to College with events in freshers’ week and provided them with lots of resources and support.

She says: “I wanted to be the person that made this year’s freshers feel really welcome. That was my main driver; knowing I could have that effect.

“It was probably one of the most stressful weeks of my life, but it’s really rewarding seeing all your plans come to fruition.

“On the first day they moved in we had a quiz night and they were all getting to know each other and chatting – it looked like they’d known each other for ages. It was great to see how well it went.”

A student in an academic gownLayo, pictured right at her matriculation, enjoyed rowing throughout her first year but now is targeting the University taekwondo team. She is a blackbelt in the martial art, which she practised from age seven.

She says Caius is “a lovely community,” and she has friends across academic year groups.

Many of the relationships Dipo made early in his time at Caius have lasted.

Dipo, who works in a real estate private equity for Castleforge, says: “I made some really good friends. We still have the group we used to go to the Library with or go out with at uni.

“Post-uni I lived with one of my friends from Economics; we lived together in London for five years and he was one of the first people I met at Caius. We lived with some other Caians as well!”

Layo and Dipo plan to recreate a photo from Dipo’s graduation day when it is Layo’s turn.

Dipo says: “I know she’s going to do really well and I’ll be there on her graduation day. I wouldn’t miss it.”


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