TWO Kidderminster College students have won Access to Higher Education Learner Awards in recognition of the way studying has transformed their lives.
Max Carrington has overcome homelessness to train as a clinical psychologist and Debbie Preece has conquered a drug addiction to pursue a career in social work.
They each received a £500 prize towards the costs of their studies and a certificate at a special awards ceremony, which was attended by 12 other winners, at the University of Wolverhampton’s science park.
Mr Carrington said: "I am so pleased to finally be progressing in life after many setbacks and for that I have the access course and Kidderminster College to thank.
“Winning this award is a huge bonus and will allow me to buy much-needed equipment for university."
His tutor Rachel Januszewski, who nominated him for the award, said: “Max’s journey shows that commitment, effort and determination, even in the face of challenges, yields rewards and transforms lives.”
Mr Carrington was homeless when he started the access to higher education course at Kidderminster College but he now has a home, two jobs to pay his rent and will start university in October.
Mrs Preece, a former drug addict who raised five children as a single mother, said: “I have loved every aspect of the course and, through my various difficulties, I have managed to remain focused with the constant support from staff.”
Anna Place, director of learning at Kidderminster College, said “Debbie is an inspiration for those who want to make a fresh start and evidence that you can have a second chance at life.
“If ever there was a learner who was determined to achieve despite great adversity it is Debbie.”
The awards, which are run by the Open College Network West Midlands Region (OCNWMR), are an annual celebration of extraordinary individuals on access to higher education courses.
Christine Assheton, chief executive officer of OCNWMR, said: “It is a great pleasure to support and award students who have had to overcome significant barriers in order to re-enter education.
“Returning to education can be financially challenging to those facing barriers of studying and carrying out other responsibilities such as caring or employment.”