Learner Jacob Lewis is overjoyed this week after seeing his hard work and determination recognised when being highly commended by the Association of Colleges (AoC) in the Student of the Year Awards 2015.
The 22 year old from Cardiff has turned his life and prospects around by overcoming many barriers to learning through his own diligence and commitment and with the help and support of staff at Coleg y Cymoedd. Jacob is now heading to Cambridge University to study Law after achieving four A* Grades in his A-Levels.
The AoC judging panel was overwhelmed by the variety of applications and the extent of the success of the learners, whether in college work or extra-curricular activities and therefore decided to introduce an additional ‘Highly Commended’ category, which Jacob was chosen to receive. The judges were impressed by his success in his A-Levels despite the adversity he has faced and felt that this needed to be recognised.
The AoC Student of the Year award celebrates the achievements and successes of exceptional students who stand out from the crowd. The purpose of the award is to recognise and reward those students who have achieved significantly above and beyond expectations.
On hearing he had received recognition from the AoC, Jacob said: “I am delighted that the AoC have recognised my academic achievements this year, but I would like to give the chief credit to staff at Coleg y Cymoedd, who offered me tremendous support with my work and with my challenging personal circumstances, and without whom I would never have achieved as much as I have.”
Jacob returned to education as a mature learner following three years working in debt management. After a breakdown in relations with his family, Jacob ended up living on friends’ sofas before eventually turning to Coleg y Cymoedd for help. The college accessed the student hardship fund to support his travel and living expenses, even putting him up in a hotel when he had nowhere else to go.
President of the AoC, John Widdowson, who led the judging panel, said: “As a College Principal, I know that students across the country are committed to working hard to achieve success. Jacob has shown the positive impact further education can have and is a true inspiration to us all.”
Nominator Ian Rees, Strategic Alliance Manager for the A-Level programme at Nantgarw, said: “Jacob’s feat of achieving 4 A*s in his A-Levels is outstanding by any standards and is genuinely inspirational to others. As the College’s first ever successful Cambridge entrant, he will act as a role model to students in the College who come after him, who will look at what he has achieved and hopefully believe they can emulate his success. On behalf of all staff at Coleg y Cymoedd, I would like to wish Jacob every success with his Law degree and in his subsequent career.”
Jacob was among the 430 learners to sit A Level exams at Coleg y Cymoedd’s dedicated A-Level Centre; part of the new £40 million Nantgarw campus which opened in September 2012.