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The student stories behind Colleges Week

It’s always great to have an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic work colleges do in setting people of all ages on a successful course in life.

Colleges week is definitely one such opportunity. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Get In – Go Further’ which is essentially the ambition of everyone within a college, including here at York College.

It’s a call-to-action which our staff and students answered through one of the toughest years in living memory for education. Hopefully, the worst of the pandemic restrictions are permanently behind us and it’s time to look forward.

Colleges Week gives us the opportunity to do that, and to celebrate where we take students, whether it’s work, T Levels, apprenticeships, Higher Education or just the confidence to live independently. It doesn’t really matter what the ambition is – it’s about the focus on progression.

For this blog we spoke to some of our own students, all with very different ambitions, to celebrate how College is playing a part in their journey:

Lee Probert, Chief Executive and Principal

Andeif Abubakr, 19

I have lived in the UK for about two-and-a-half years, after arriving in the country as a refugee from Sudan. When I arrived I lived with foster parents and I was unable to speak English. Starting at York College in 2019, my English soon began to improve.

My first year wasn’t easy but I definitely developed a lot in that time. I’m now studying GCSE Maths and English and I’m also part way through my IT course. I’ve also made lots of different friends.

College has given me a lot of help, not just in learning English, but in building confidence, finding friends and helping me in my goal of getting to university. I want to study IT and eventually go into IT support.

Oscar Harrold, 19

After GCSEs, followed by A Levels at Driffield School, I’m now studying Digital Marketing, Level Three, at York College. My course is essentially day release as I work the rest of the week at a physiotherapy clinic, where I have a marketing role.

College continues to be really valuable to me. It’s energised my confidence and organisational skills and, of course, my skills and knowledge of digital marketing. College also helps you develop life skills - the kind of things you’re just not taught at school.

My tutors are brilliant and the thing I love is that that you’re treated like an adult, which really helps develop a professional attitude for building a career beyond college.

Rioghan McTeighe-Day, 24

I’m currently one month into a Stone Masonry, Level Two course, which I combine with a job at a quarry in Tadcaster. I was attracted to York as a city because of the history. Following a DNA test I discovered my ancestors were a Celtic/Viking/gladiator mix, so I felt drawn to York, despite my roots being in the south.

I already had an affinity for stonework after working on a farm in Wales, where I built dry-stone walls then, while travelling, I worked on the facades of homes in Mongolia.

Although I’m only one month in, my course at York College has grounded me in the basics and fundamentals of working in stone as well as health and safety, and geometric drawing. It’s also helped develop essential life skills. I definitely feel as though I’ll be able to apply what I’m learning here in College, to however I progress in stonemasonry.

Matilda Austen, 19

I’m currently studying the Foundation Degree (FdA) Media Make-up, Special Effects and Hair Design at York College University Centre. It’s a career path I’ve wanted to take since I was at school.

I started out on a beauty therapy course before moving up to the Media Make-Up degree. I wanted to gain more confidence and broaden my skills before I head out into the industry, and being in College is certainly providing me with all that.

The course covers absolutely everything I know I’m going to need to break into the industry – whether I choose to go into film, television, or theatre.

Aidan Carey, 17

I’m currently doing A Levels in Art, Geography and Film Studies at York College, having started in September 2020. The support I received while we were all working remotely was fantastic. It really instilled values of time management and self-discipline. My Art course has also really helped me to develop an understanding of the design process.

In fact, while we were in the 2021 lockdown, I put my spare time into doing something I’ve always wanted to do, and I set up my own fashion label. I designed my first collection of t-shirts and sweatshirts, set up a website, created brand advertising and researched the entire logistical process. It has been a steep learning curve, but I want to work in fashion, and I am hoping to do fashion and business studies at university. York College has been immensely supportive of this ambition and has provided a valuable first step for my career.

Find out more about the range of courses at York College, by visiting our Curriculum Areas page.