Former College Student Gets Association of Colleges Gold Award
National Star College staff and students were celebrating last week – Wednesday 13th June - as former college student, Katie Etherington was awarded a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Gold Award by Lord Willis of Knaresborough at the House of Commons to recognise her professional achievements and the impact National Star College has had on her career.
The annual awards recognise former students of further education colleges who, since leaving, have gone on to ‘stand out’ in their careers, as well as the vital role that colleges play in the careers of the winners and their continuing achievements.
Katie Etherington, who has spinal muscular atrophy, was nominated for the award by National Star College - where she studied as a residential student and achieved a BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Design between 1998 and 2001. She was chosen for her inspiring professional achievements including her successful career as a graphic designer and her innovative business, PA Pool Ltd, which is a website introduction service for people with disabilities and personal assistants/carers. The website has over 12,000 members from across the UK and has been shortlisted for many recognised business awards.*
Katy Etherington was among eight former students who won awards, whose careers have been positively influenced by their former Colleges. On winning her award, Katy says:
"I am delighted and honoured to receive this award, (if not a little bit awestruck to be amongst such a prestigious line up!). It has made me realise how much I have achieved since leaving college."
Commenting on her time as a student at National Star College, Katy says:
"The wonderful facilities at the National Star College were a complete novelty after having to manage in environments geared to able-bodied people and I certainly made the most of them. My time there gave me so many opportunities to try things I’d never dreamed possible and ultimately gave me the confidence and skills to realise a full and independent life. Thank you to everyone at National Star College, keep up the fantastic work!"
To highlight the important role further education continues to play for today’s students the AoC Charitable Trust runs a ‘mini me’ campaign alongside the Gold Awards. The nominating colleges each select a current student who shows promise in a similar field to their Gold Award winner.
Craig Morris, who has muscular dystrophy, was nominated by National Star College. He is currently studying an extended Diploma in Art and Design at Level 3 at Gloucestershire College where he enrolled after completing a GCSE double award and a BTEC National Award at the National Star College. Once he leaves Gloucestershire College he hopes to set up his own web company to sell his work including abstract landscape drawings and printing creating digital printing to ceramics.
After meeting Katy at the award ceremony, Craig Fisher, student says:
"I was really pleased to meet Katy to find out how she overcame the many barriers she faced in order to create a successful business. I wanted to ask what advice she could give me as I start to face these barriers in creating my own business. Katy has proved that having a disability need not be a barrier to having a successful career. I am also looking at starting to employ my own personal assistants so I’m sure PA Pool will be a great help with that too!"
Katy finished by saying:
"The support and facilities the National Star College provide are outstanding and I'm sure there will be many more young disabled people like Craig, who will not just follow in my footsteps, but go on to push the boundaries of success to its furthest reaches."