STUDENTS celebrated their successes during a glitzy awards evening at South Essex College.
The event, held at the College’s Southend Campus, saw over 30 awards presented to the best students in each subject area from the three campuses – Southend, Basildon and Thurrock.
Awards up for grabs included A-Level Student of the Year, Motor Vehicle Student of the Year and Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy Student of the Year.
Principal and Chief Executive of the College, Angela O’Donoghue CBE, kicked off proceedings with her opening speech. She said: “This is a great occasion, one of the highlights in the College year and one of the favourite parts of my job as Principal. This is a real celebration of the diversity of courses, programmes and, indeed people at South Essex College.”
Next up was guest speaker, Jonah Ripley, an ex-student who has gone on to achieve great things in the media industry working for leading companies such as the BBC and Channel 4. He’s currently employed by top advertising agency, TBWA who are responsible for iconic TV adverts including the Guinness horse and waves masterpiece.
Jonah delivered an inspiring speech about his journey and struggle with dyslexia. He said: “I like to shine my best. Rather than fighting my dyslexia, I have let it become my super power. It’s not going to hold me back anymore.”
He urged the students to take risks with their career and praised the College for supporting him. He added: “The College helped me cope with the course workload, they got me to where I wanted to be.”
One of the standout winners of the evening had to be Mychal Moore, 21 from Brentwood. She was in a car accident in 2012, broke her back and leg and had to drop out of sixth form. She then went on to complete a Level 3 Diploma in Dance at the College and won Media and Performing Arts Student of the Year. Mychal said: “It’s been a tough two years physically, even simple things on the course were difficult for me but I love dance and after my accident, I just wanted to follow my dreams.”
She added: “I went through a horrific experience but I believe everything happens for a reason. The course made me develop as a person, it increased my confidence and the tutors have been so supportive.”
Student Robyn Murray, 22, won two awards. She was named Art and Design Student of the Year and then received the overall prize of Student of the Year. Robyn from Basildon said: “I’m overwhelmed and shocked, I didn’t expect this. College has been the best years of my life, I never thought I would get this far in education after finding out I was dyslexic.”
Robyn progressed throughout the College starting with a Level 2 course in acting, then completing a Level 3 course in fine art before finally undertaking a Level 4 UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design. She has now secured a place at Goldsmiths University to study art. She added: “I would encourage any student to keep going, you get a lot of knocks in education and it’s not easy but keep going. I always wanted to get into university, if you have a goal then nothing will stop you!
Presented by Essex radio personality Dom Atkins, the intimate evening also included musical performances by students, a buffet meal and a student magician to entertain the tables.
The awards took place on Vocational Qualifications Day. VQ Day celebrates vocational achievement and the benefits of practical, technical and vocational learning.
To find out more about the courses on offer at South Essex College and how it can help you get to where you want to be, visit https://www.southessex.ac.uk/