Joint Winners – Keith Southern and Sabyha Khan
Keith, 55 from Mid Cheshire College, grew up in children’s homes. Profoundly dyslexic, he was sent to 13 different schools, leaving at 15 without any formal qualifications. After four years in the merchant navy, he landed a job with ICI. When he was made redundant 30 years later, he made the brave decision, aged 52, to go to back college to pursue his lifelong passion for music.
Having always performed as a musician in his spare time, Keith initially enrolled on the National Diploma in Music Technology, where he was awarded a distinction for each assignment he submitted. Keith is now working part-time as a peripatetic guitar teacher at a local primary school, has progressed to a Foundation Degree in Commercial Music Technology at Mid Cheshire College, and been accepted onto a Teacher Training qualification.
He plans to combine these two courses with his ongoing music performance career and progress into a permanent teaching job. Mid Cheshire’s music department see him as a potential future college lecturer, and would love it if one day he were able to join their staff.
At Uxbridge College, Sabyha, 18, achieved an impressive two A* and two A grades at A Level. These grades were sufficient to earn her a place at Cambridge University, where she has started a degree in Medicine. In the future, she would like to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology.
Sabyha was also nominated for her extra-curricular achievements, which show an early commitment to public service. As captain, she led the college’s public speaking team to victory in the local and regional heats of the Rotary Youth Speaks competition. She tutored other students as a volunteer in the college’s maths clinic and orchestrated the winning campaign for a candidate in the elections to the student council.
Second prize went to Joe Panasiuk, 18, The Sheffield College
Joe completed the intensive, one-year BTEC Diploma Level 3 in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at The Sheffield College, becoming one of the first students to graduate from Yorkshire and the Humber’s Peter Jones Enterprise Academy.
This achievement is particularly remarkable because Joe managed his studies while caring for his younger sister following the death of their mother last year. The family tragedy had put Joe at an educational as well as personal disadvantage, as he had to leave his school sixth form without finishing his A2 Levels. Nonetheless, he bounced back at college, obtaining distinction grades in his BTEC and meeting all his deadlines.
At college, Joe also found time to further develop his exceptional entrepreneurial flair and give back to the community. On the course, he developed a quarterly tabloid called ‘Stamped’, which tapped into student talent in Sheffield and connected it with local businesses.
Third prize went to Mahamed Awale, 16, Sir George Monoux College
As a dedicated UK youth parliament representative for his borough, A Level student Mahamad’s shock at the lack of inspiration and ambition among some of his peers inspired him to set up what he and his business partner describe as ‘the world’s first junior talent network’ – a cross between a social networking site, talent agency and video sharing site.
The Inspire Talent Network showcases young people’s skills and helps them to network with each other. As a result of his social entrepreneurial activities, Mahamed was recently selected to appear on the BBC’s Young Apprentice show with Sir Alan Sugar, and made it down to the last 12 contestants.