A refugee who fled Syria, a carer who returned to education to pursue her dreams and a student who was rejected from schools, were among those celebrated at Leeds City College’s Star Awards 2017.
The glitzy event that took place at Leeds United’s Centenary Pavilion on 28 June, was a celebration of over 20 students who exceeded expectations through outstanding achievements, overcoming adversity or excelling in their studies.
Among those receiving awards, was ESOL student, Waddah Alhasan who came to England in 2014 after escaping war-torn Syria. He said: “I thought I had no future, I was witnessing neighbours and families being killed. I was terrified, but once I arrived in the UK my life changed for the better.
“I couldn’t speak any English and three years later, I’m winning an award and on my way to university to pursue my dreams of becoming an English teacher. This is all thanks to the ESOL department at Leeds City College. I feel so lucky and thankful for the opportunities available to me.”
Student Alessandro Abdel Miseih came to Leeds City College after being rejected from other A-Level providers who didn’t believe that his written and spoken English skills would allow him to succeed. He is now on track to achieve three As in Biology, Chemistry and Maths, and recently scored in the top 5 per cent nationally on the Oxford Medicine entrance exam.
Another successful student was 46-year-old Catherine Carter, who returned to education to study Production Arts and follow her dreams of working in a costume department for television.
Along with her studies, Catherine looks after her three children, two of whom have special needs. She said: “It has been a challenge but my family have been so supportive which has allowed me to do something I love.
“I also wanted to prove that you can achieve your ambitions regardless of your age or circumstances. I have now secured a place at the University of Huddersfield, where I will be studying a BA (hons) in Costume with Textiles.”
The overall student of the year award, went to 18 year old butcher, Hannah Blakey. She has represented the college at exhibitions across the country and has enjoyed success on an international level, competing in the World Apprentice and the Lifeline Young Butchers competitions in Australia. Hannah has now secured a sponsorship by leading UK meat supplier, Weddel Swift.
Musharaf Ashgar from Educating Yorkshire was the event’s guest speaker, who presented an inspirational speech on beating his stammer. There were also performances from the college choir, dance group and alumni singers.