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Top achievers at East Berkshire College were honoured at the College’s annual Stand Out Awards Ceremony on Tuesday (21st June).

Former student and co-founder of the charity EduHaitian, Olivia Owen was guest speaker at the prestigious event, which was held at the College’s Langley Campus in Station Road.

The awards acknowledged the outstanding achievements of over 110 students, across both the Langley and Windsor colleges. Prizes were awarded for excellence, endeavour, achievement, service to the community and most promising student for each of the College’s curriculum areas as well as an overall Learner of the Year, Apprentice of the Year and Alumni of the Year.

An elated Michaela Simsova (aged 21, from Colnbrook), who is studying the Diploma in Sports and Active Leisure at Langley College, received the accolade of overall College Student of the Year.

“I’m surprised and delighted,” enthused Michaela. “I’ve never won anything like this before. My English wasn’t very good when I first started at the College, but my lecturers were really supportive and taught me to believe in myself. Thanks to them, I have been able to progress my studies, gain a part-time job as a fitness instructor and follow my dream of going to university to study physiotherapy.”

In addition to her studies, Michaela is an active member of the College community and volunteers as a college sports activator, regularly running sports sessions for other students.

Another winner was champion slalom canoeist and former student Mallory Franklin, who won the coveted Alumni of the Year Award for her outstanding sporting achievements since graduating in 2012. Since studying sports and exercise science at the College, Mallory has represented Great Britain all over the world and achieved three Senior World Cup gold medals, two Senior World Championship silver medals and a Senior European Silver medal. Most recently she won gold in the C1 canoeing event at the 2016 World Cup in France.

This year’s Apprentice of the Year Award went to Tom Wigington (aged 17), who is currently working as a carpentry apprentice for Deadline Cutting Limited in Watford: “Winning this award gives me the confidence of knowing I’m going in the right direction. I find it easier to learn by doing something practical rather than sitting at a desk, so being an apprentice is great as you’re out there learning and earning money at the same time.”

Olivia Owen gave an inspiring and heartfelt speech, talking of the unwavering support she received during her time at college. Support that led her to transform her life and give her the confidence to undertake an incredible journey of humanitarian work in Haiti, following a devastating earthquake. Since completing her childcare course in 2010, Olivia has worked in orphanages, taught English, helped with reconstruction projects and co-founded the charity EduHaitian, where she is continuing her mission to provide school scholarship for children in need.

“East Berkshire College is a really special transformative place for me, so I was honoured to return to speak at the annual awards. I dropped out of school and didn’t think education was for me, but coming to the College changed everything for me. I was nurtured by some incredible teachers, who really believed in me.

“Thanks to the College, I not only achieved my qualifications, but went on to study International Studies at Goldsmiths University and I’ve set-up the charity EduHaitian. When we launched the charity in 2011, we were able to support five children in Haiti to go to school and now five years on, we are able to help 50 young people access education.”

The special evening event was attended by over 300 guests, which included students, parents, teachers and local dignatries. Hospitality and catering students served up a delicious range of canapés at the event, while performing arts students narrated the proceedings.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 800 courses available, please click here or call 01753 793000

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