At this year’s virtual graduation ceremony Fiona Hyslop MSP announced the winners of the West Lothian College Student of the Year awards.
These awards recognise students who, on top of their academic achievement, stood out through their commitment to the college, supporting others, or achieving additional skills from work experience or volunteering. There were six awards presented this year — five faculty Student of the Year awards, and one SQA Student of the Year award.
Faculty Student of the Year Awards
There were two winners of Student of the Year awards in the Faculty of Business, Creative and Enterprise.
Michael Allan, who graduated with HNC Events, volunteered throughout the year for all major college events including the hugely successful and innovative Interrupt19 digital conference. He assisted at The Gathering, the largest annual voluntary sector exhibition in Scotland. Michael set up his own events company this year and his talent was recognised nationally when he was shortlisted as a finalist in the Bridge to Business Young Entrepreneurs Award.
Sarah Smillie, who graduated with HNC Art, produced exceptional work from the very beginning of her course and her portfolio was exemplary, showing creativity, flair, intelligence and skill. Sarah secured degree places at all four of the most highly sought-after Scottish art schools. She decided to take her studies forward at Edinburgh College of Art where this year fewer than 5% of applicants were successful in securing a place.
There are two Student of the Year winners in the Faculty of Care, Health and Sport.
Thomas Lawson, who graduated with HNC Applied Sciences, was an enthusiastic, insightful and a thoughtful contributor to his class, and progressed very well while managing other competing demands on his time. During experiments and in theory classes he showed an enquiring mind and asked searching questions. Keen to answer the why and how questions, he went further by exploring research being carried out in these areas.
Mark Taylor, whograduated with HND Fitness, Health and Exercise, led activity sessions with primary school pupils and secured a part time coaching job where he helps children to believe in themselves and gain confidence. As part of his qualification, Mark designed and carried out personal training sessions with older adults who have mental and physical disabilities. He established his own personal training business and helps clients reduce their risk of Covid19 through exercise, diet and weight management.
The Student of the Year Award in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment was presented to Scott Smith,who graduated with an HNC Cyber Security. As well as consistently submitting work of an extremely high quality, Scott went out of his way to help fellow students when they struggled with aspects of the course. He worked very hard as a member of the new West Lothian College Ethical Hacking Clubwhere he brought forward lots of good ideas.
SQA Student of the Year Award
The SQA Student of the Year award is presented to a student who has exhibited outstanding academic achievement over the year. This year’s award goes to Costica Darie who graduated with HNC Childhood Practice.
Costica joined the college a few years ago as an ESOL student. Last year, he started HNC Childhood Practice with an aspiration to articulate directly into second year of the Primary Education Studies degree at Queen Margaret University. He demonstrated determination and ambition to fulfil that aspiration.
His positive work ethic was reflected in the high standard and quality of his academic work and achieved an A in his graded unit during lockdown while home schooling his children. As well as studying the HNC qualification, he attended additional classes to achieve higher level communication skills.
In addition to his studies, Costica supported the college’s Men into Childcare campaign by facilitating workshops with third year school pupils who came into the college’s forest classroom for their outdoor learning experience. His contribution to this campaign was outstanding, as he was passionate and knowledgeable about the use of outdoors as a vehicle to engage young people in their learning. Costica is a natural role model and a great ambassador for raising awareness of the difference that men can make in early learning settings.
Congratulations to all special award winners. You are shining examples of the talent of West Lothian College students!