Students' struggles rewarded

PUBLISHED: 14:11 25 January 2012

Access to Higher Education Student of the Year, Vaida Mushipe with Steve Cunningham, Dr Paul Phillips Principal.

Access to Higher Education Student of the Year, Vaida Mushipe with Steve Cunningham, Dr Paul Phillips Principal.

Archant

STUDENTS who have fought for their places in education and overcome personal battles scooped awards at Weston College's student of the year presentation.

More than 300 people attended the ceremony, which included an inspirational keynote speech from Steve Cunningham, who represented Blindvision.

One of the winners was Vaida Mushipe, aged 50, of Mead Vale, Worle, who had to fight to secure a place at the college.

Vaida, originally from Zimbabwe, was also a carer for her husband during her time on the course and had to fit her studies around her family commitments.

She said: “It was a struggle to get on the course as it had been 32 years since I had last been to school.

“I also had to look after my husband while he was unwell. When I was at Weston College I was his main carer, and it wasn’t easy. But I also have three supportive daughters.”

Vaida, who was named as the college’s access to higher education student of the year, is now doing a nursing degree at the University of the West of England.

She said: “This is my passion and I want to do this because I want to give something back to the NHS for all of the help it gave my husband.

“This award has really surprised me, I feel like a celebrity.”

Another student who had to balance coursework with caring for a relative was Ricky-Joe Wheatly.

Ricky, aged 26, of Banwell, was awarded with the title construction and engineering student of the year. He helps care for his 22-year-old sister who has to cope with autism, dyspraxia and dyslexia.

He said: “My mum and I take turns looking after her, but I have been doing it since she was born so I’m used to it.

“I feel pleased with myself for doing this and completing my course because I also suffer from dyslexia. I got through it all and passed with good grades, so it feels like a real accomplishment.”

Eventually Ricky hopes to set up his own business.

n Pictured: Vaida Mushipe with Steve Cunningham and college 
principal Paul Phillips.

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