The Student of the Year awards honours the best among college students in England.
The 2013 Student of the Year was Vicky Knight.
Vicky, 18, from Barking and Dagenham College, was chosen by the judges for her determination to overcome difficulties presented early in her life. When she was eight-years-old she was the victim of an arson attack at her family’s business. With 33% burns on her upper body and limited use of her hands, she has undergone 20 operations and suffered a lack of self-esteem as a result of her injuries.
Being in constant pain has not stopped Vicky. With four fellow colleges students she has launched a charity – Scar Quality – to provide professional makeovers for burns victims to help boost their self-esteem. She has raised £1,000 with a sponsored 28-mile walk and even travelled to South Africa to meet burns victims in the townships and give talks.
Vicky gives talks on how to overcome challenges and has shared her experience with adult counselling and childcare students, inspiring them to make generous contributions to her charity. Even though she is frequently in hospital, she requests a laptop to ensure she keeps up with her studies.
Second prize was given to Luca Frondella from Warwickshire College – Royal Leamington Spa, Rugby and Moreton Morrell
Luca, 18, overcame dyslexia to score three starred-distinctions in his BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in 3D Design. He was part of the course’s successful bid to establish an entrepreneurial ‘Learning Company’ helping to prepare students for the realities of running a commercial business.
His final major project – a portable charging station design called PortaPower – is part of the ‘Ministerial Waiting Rooms Exhibition’ at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The device is environmentally-friendly and uses solar and wind power for lighting and small electronic devices which would be vital for developing countries.
Luca, who is now studying a BA/MDes in Product Design at Coventry University, was a key member of the Learning Company team, helping with the running and still maintains close links with students and staff on the course at the college.
Third prize went to Kieran Beavis from South Gloucestershire College & Stroud College
Kieran, 19, fulfils his college’s motto of ‘Outstanding by Standing Out’. When bad behaviour led to suspensions and a behavioural action plan, Kieran’s future looked in jeopardy. But after excelling on a six-month programme for NEET students, he progressed to supporting a performing arts group with complex physical and academic difficulties. He is described as a ‘fantastic asset’ to the group, encouraging them to achieve their own targets and dreams.
Kieran has now progressed onto a foundation programme and is an excellent example of what a student on a part-time NEET programme can achieve.