THE talent of tomorrow was recognised at an annual awards ceremony.
City College Brighton and Hove held its City Achievers 2014 student awards ceremony at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Brighton.
The awards, which have been running since 2005, drew from a cohort of 8,000 students, with the college choosing 40 winners in subjects including art and design, business, hairdressing, music, digital arts, carpentry, sports and catering.
The event was hosted by international speaker and business excellence consultant Sarah Hopwood and among the bright prospects were examples of triumph over adversity.
One of those was Vana O’Brien, who was given the overall City Achiever award.
Vana was homeless during the first six months of her Level 2 Bricklaying course in 2012, initially affecting her attendance.
Despite this difficult start, and the fact she was the only female on her course, Vana persevered and linked up with college services to build a support network.
Vana said: “I was ecstatic when it was announced that I’d won and feel really privileged to get this award.
“City College has done so much to support and encourage me and being there feels like being part of a family.
“The staff have been amazing.”
Principal Lynn Thackway said: “I’ve known Vana since I arrived at the college two years ago, so to present her with our overall City Achiever award was an absolute honour.
“She’s a student who has made a lasting impression on many through her positive attitude and determination to succeed.
“She’s a truly inspirational and well-deserving winner.
Tony Swallow, her tutor, said: “Vana’s success will surely encourage women to work towards careers in construction and will act as an inspiration to other learners with personal barriers to overcome.”
Ricardo Mwe-di-Malila was in a similar position as Vana; he was homeless last September but went on to help raise £3,000 to launch the Student Enterprise Society, become a finalist in the Young Start Up Talent Competition and secure a place at the University of Sussex.
He scooped the Enterprise City Achiever award at City College’s ceremony.
His tutor, Tina Porter, said: “Ricardo’s a natural who has won the hearts and minds of the local business community and who delivers even when the odds are stacked up against him.”
Uprooted from Egypt because of its recent turmoil, Martha Marzouk was initially unsure of her abilities But her commitment to studying and progressing at the college has been outstanding, resulting in her winning the ESOL City Achiever award.
Martha said: “I’m really grateful to City College.
“The staff have done so much to help me progress in my life since I’ve been in England.”
She is now volunteering as a teaching assistant at the college.
When Wayne Goulding, the new Pre-Access to Higher Education City Achiever, first came to the college he was living in a rehabilitation unit and had only been “dry” for six months. During the year he developed some major health problems as well as experiencing bereavement but overcame these difficulties.
His tutor Michael Mason said: “Wayne’s commitment to turning his life around and engaging in education has been outstanding.
“He’s a role model and an inspiration.”
Another student, Rheannon Sparks, suffered bereavement the Sunday before the awards yet still got through her final speech with determination.
She is the winner of the Princes Trust City Achiever award and was described as a “pillar of strength” in the trust’s team programme.
Other notable winners included Harry Shooman, the Sport City Achiever. Having only moved to Brighton from Wales last summer, Harry became one of the sports department’s most successful students. He was a key player as the college became football county champions in both 11-a-side and 6-a-side matches and he won the player of the year award.
Harry has also been selected to represent Sussex Colleges and is going to England Schoolboy trials in August.
On top of this, Harry is set to gain a double distinction at the end of his first academic year.
Harry said: “I felt very privileged to win this award and with the England schoolboy trials coming up, it’s been an exciting year for me.”
Milan Tarascus, the Art Foundation City Achiever, is described by his tutors as one of the most creative students ever to have studied on a foundation diploma in art and design.
Milan said: “Being at City College has been the best educational experience of my life.”
A college spokesman said: “His amazing output of work across sculpture, painting, performance and film-making has been an inspiration for all of the group.”
Milan has attained a place at the renowned Slade School of Fine Art in London.
As for former students, the Golden Alumni award for outstanding former students went to hair salon owner Jennifer Maag, who left when she was 18 and has gone on to employ other City College students.
Jennifer said: “It's really important for me to pass my knowledge to the next generation of stylists and I'm thrilled that City College has recognised my success.”
Jennifer, now 34, is currently employing two apprentices and two senior stylists at her salon, Glow, which is now in its tenth year in George Street, Hove.
In her own career, Jennifer benefited from the encouragement and support of another ex-City College student, Debbie Maskell, who employed Jennifer at Artisan Hair in Brighton’s Lanes and now works alongside her in Glow.
Glow is involved in the college’s annual hair show and two of Jennifer’s team got winner and runner-up awards at this year’s show in April.
Of the younger nominees, 14 to 16 City Achiever Jack Forrest, was described by the college as “a conscientious individual” and “capable peer” who would always help his classmates with their problems.
There were also external community awards, with an employer contribution award going to Brighton and Hove City Council for its commitment to delivering apprenticeships in partnership with City College.
The council has made a long-term pledge to consistently have 70 apprentices within the organisation on an ongoing basis.
Every year, 2,000 full-time, 7,000 part-time, 400 higher-education and 400 14 to 16-year-old students, as well as overseas students, study at City College.
Principal Lynn Thackway said the annual awards is the biggest event of the college’s year.
She added: “When you hear the students' stories and see how proud and delighted their families and friends are, it reminds you what a rewarding sector further education is to work in.”