From starting a new career at 50 to studying and retraining at the height of a global pandemic, standout students are being recognised at Redcar and Cleveland College.
The college’s annual Celebration of Achievement Awards shine a spotlight on learners, of all ages, who have shown remarkable efforts during the last year.
Among the award winners is Public Services student Liv. Named Redcar and Cleveland College’s Student of the Year, the 19-year-old from Liverton Mines has surprised even herself with her achievements.
“I can’t believe I have done it.” she said. “There were so many times I didn’t think that I was going to be able to keep going or even finish college.”
With ambitions to become a criminal psychologist, Liv, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, has overcome multiple personal challenges to get to where she is today.
Finding it difficult to be in social situations and communicate with her peers, as well as struggling with hearing sensitivity, there was a time when she would have found it impossible to walk into a room of strangers, never mind get up on to the stage to accept an award.
Starting on a level 1 course at the college, to build her confidence and ability to cope with the classroom setting, Liv has shown grit and determination. Achieving a grade 5 in GCSE English alongside her studies, she was able to jump straight to the level 3 course.
Now a distinction student with an offer to study psychology with criminology at Teesside University and also named the college’s Public Services Student of the Year, she said: “I feel proud and surprised. My career goal is everything to me and I know that the only way of getting there is to keep going and get the grades and qualifications that I need.”
With just 21 awards up for grabs, Redcar and Cleveland College had no shortage of potential contenders for this year’s accolades.
Redcar granddad-of-four, Simon, was announced the winner of the Vicki Lawrence Memorial Award. Sponsored by the Sir William Turner Foundation, the prestigious trophy goes to a promising learner who is following a health-related study pathway.
Working at the frontline of the battle against the pandemic as a health care assistant in critical care, he said: “I have never won anything like this in my life. As a child, I used to run away from school so to win this for my college work is just incredible.”
Simon, 51, braved a return to the classroom to fulfil his ambition of working in a hospital setting.
Studying an Access to Higher Education in Humanities course and a level 4 qualification in social care, he volunteered his time to work as an assistant at the door of the covid ward at The James Cook University Hospital, and quickly went on to be offered a job.
While it hasn’t been easy, he said: “I don’t have one single regret, I wouldn’t change my job for the world. I love it.”
Awards given out by the college also included titles for 16 to 18 Student of the Year, Redcar and Cleveland College Student of the Year, Apprentice of the Year and Adult Student of the Year.
College Principal Jason Faulkner said: “Our Celebration of Achievement Awards are a highlight of the college calendar. It is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the last year and recognise those who go above and beyond in their efforts.
“In what has been a particularly challenging year for all, we are so proud of all our award winners and all our learners across the college who have shown remarkable commitment and resilience.”