Former Nottingham College student Claire Brookes is an inspiration.
Having completed her degree with us in 2021, Claire is now studying for a master’s degree at Trent University.
Whilst that is impressive enough, it’s Claire’s full story that makes her special, so special that she has been shortlisted for ‘Higher Education Student of the Year’ by the AoC (Association of Colleges).
Claire’s story began back in 2005, when she joined the College to study on a Level 1 literacy course. Having been unsuccessful in obtaining her GCSE grades in maths and English, she faced the challenge of re-entering education, whilst caring for two young children, as well as struggling with her own mental health, mobility issues and dyscalculia.
Having been successful in her literacy course, she progressed all the way up to foundation degree, achieving a distinction in 2019. In 2020 / 21 she achieved her full bachelor’s degree, achieving a First-Class Honours. Her achievements were so impressive that she was awarded ‘Graduate of the Year’ by the College, recognising not just her academic progress, but her achievement in the face of numerous challenges and barriers.
Claire has worked tirelessly throughout her College career to support her peers both personally and academically. Chosen as class representative on her Foundation Degree, she went on to be elected as Student Union Vice-President and latterly President, which also saw her take up a place as a Student Governor on the College’s Board of Governors.
Claire has provided the most outstanding example of how a life can be transformed through education and lifelong learning. Her example motivated and inspired students and staff across the College to aim higher and achieve more.
She has comprehensively demonstrated that life chances can be changed through education, commitment and resilience. I cannot think of a more worthy winner of HE Student of the Year and I know Claire is thrilled to have been shortlisted. Our fingers are crossed for her for this award, but above all we are all rooting for her in her ongoing studies and for her future success in whatever she chooses to do on completion of her Master’s. Our sincere congratulations Claire.Janet Smith — CEO and Principal of Nottingham College
Claire said of her nomination:
I’m shocked that the College has chosen to submit me for this national award. I was thrilled to have been chosen as College Graduate of the Year so this really is a fantastic surprise. College gave me all the tools I needed to learn and grow and ten years ago I could have only dreamed that I would be at university studying for a master’s degree.
I want to be the best I can be for so many reasons, not least my children. Throughout my time at College I really tried to support my fellow students, often much younger than me, and my experiences really have shaped who I am today.Claire Brookes — Nottingham College Alumni
Claire’s full academic journey is impressive. She initially enrolled on a Level 1 literacy course and progressed from this to Functional Skills Maths and an award in information and communications technology.
After achieving her English, maths and ICT, she began to study towards qualifications that would enable her to progress her career aspirations. She enrolled on a Level 1 Business Administration course and progressed to an award in work skills.
Having regained her confidence, Claire re-sat and passed her GCSEs before enrolling on an Access to HE course. This led to further progression to an award in skills for employment and further learning, followed by a Foundation Degree, and then a one-year bachelor’s degree top-up in the 2021/22 academic year.
Winners of the HE Student of the Year will be announced at the AoC Annual Conference later this month (November 2022).