Scotland’s Stuart Russell has been named among the 30 Elite Shortlisted for the Kruger Cowne Rising Star Programme.
The Rising Star Programme, which launched at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin, aims to catapult one undiscovered leader into space – and into the global spotlight. Taking their search to the next stage, the initiative’s creator, Kruger Cowne, and their partners One Young World and Spaceship Earth Grants, have announced the shortlist. Made up of extraordinary individuals from across the world, each has their own inspiring, unique story and 23-year-old Stuart Russell from Glenrothes, Fife, is honoured to be among the thirty.
Stuart told KaleidoScot: “By going to space, I hope to open the world’s eyes to the significance of creativity in our everyday lives. I want to show the world a new perspective. Space inspires so much in so many, to be the first artist in space gives hope to a generation of young artists disillusioned by the structure in the societies we live in. It’s an opportunity to break barriers, merge art with science and engage people in the visual…and also to show the world in a more positive light!”
Stuart applied to the programme in the hopes of raising awareness of the arts. By leading discussion on a global scale, the radio personality and talented artist hopes to represent ‘the misfits’ and prove that space travel is not reserved just to the scientific types. Using the platform of the Rising Star Programme, Stuart hopes to champion creativity and promote equal opportunities for all, regardless of their background.
If successful, Stuart hopes to use the experience to champion inclusivity. He added: “My experiences on earth have been bitter sweet. It’s been a crazy roller coaster and I’m only 23. I had to deal with lots of bullying, threatening behaviour and feeling like I don’t belong here. I still do not understand why it was okay for a small group of people to make me feel worthless for so many years.
“I’ve now been honoured for my contribution to the arts by a very elite group of people, and now I’ve been shortlisted for this. It’s such a drastic change of circumstances in a short period of time. I really want to put a positive stamp on the world and express an air of inclusion for those people who at one point or another felt segregated from society. I want to use my creativity to inspire positivity and instigate change.”
If Stuart is selected, he will be the first Scot, the first “out” LGBTI person* and the first non-scientist to be an astronaut.
Asked about whether his non-scientific background would place him at a disadvntage to the other candidates, Stuart was philosophical and explained his hopes to bring somethign different to the programme.
“I have a creative perspective on life. The programme is about better understanding life and our universe, and there’s no reason why such understandings should be confined to the purely scientific. I want the chance to see earth all at once; I really want to understand life and illustrate my ideas and thoughts to other young people and hopefully ignite positivity. Unfortunately not everyone understands science, maths or even space but art is universal. People respond to imagery and writing can be translated into languages and reach everyone, even the blind. I have a scroll of questions about life, earth and wonder about creativities place in our ever changing series of worldwide environments. I don’t know if space holds answers, if seeing the world from above will change anything. I hope to find out if there is space for the arts in space.”
“Science and space travel are both about innovation. Creativity is about that too, it is forever pushing boundaries. It seems to me the two fields, science and arts, are not so different, when given the chance both fields can collide in the ultimate display of beauty. People throughout history looking through microscopes, telescopes, camera lenses, all of those people witnessed seeing something new. Something unimaginable and beautiful.”
One man who knows all too well the impact of such a journey is celebrated astronaut Ron Garan, who champions the “Orbital Perspective”.
“Seeing our planet from the vantage point of space provides an undeniable perspective that each and every one of us is riding through the Universe together on this spaceship we call Earth”, said Guran – who is finalist judge for the programme.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of some of history’s boldest adventurers, Stuart’s achievements already include receiving the prestigious British Empire Medal for his services to the arts, and recognition from the House of Lords through a British Citizen Award in 2015. Stuart is the founder of “Arts in Fife”, a project created to celebrate local creativity. An advocate of the arts, Stuart is also a Fellow at the Royal Commonwealth Society and a radio presenter at Xpress Radio Scotland, Scotland only LGBTI focused radio station.
“Our chosen 30 represent the epitome of hope, leadership and talent. Spanning countries and continents, these hopefuls strive to make a difference in the world and provide a voice for those who wish to join the debate on a global scale. From societal and environmental issues, to politics and business, each and every one of our shortlist dreams of inspiring a global audience and influencing change,” says Mark Cowne, CEO of Kruger Cowne.
With the value of the space trip prize over $100,000, 3 impressive finalists chosen from the final 30 will be flown to Bangkok in November to attend the One Young World Summit 2015. Here, they will take to the stage in front of an audience of thousands of delegates and a panel of global business and social icons to deliver an inspirational 10-15 minute keynote on a topic of their choice. The established panel, which includes influential figures such as Sir Bob Geldof, Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne, David Jones, Fatima Bhutto and astronaut Ron Garan, will select their Rising Star.
For further information on the programme, and to support Stuart’s candidacy visit the Kruger Cowne website.
* Sally Ride, who died in 2012, is to date the only LGBTI astronaut, but she kept her sexuality a secret all of her life and it was only revealed after her death.