High achievers, who have worked hard all year to secure their dream place at university, celebrated together at Bath College’s annual Access to Higher Education Awards Ceremony.
The Access to Higher Education programme provides students with a nationally recognised qualification and an alternative career pathway for those who want to study at university.
Sixty-two students have successfully completed the intensive course, allowing them to progress to study on competitive degree-level courses.
Students gathered in the Shrubbery Restaurant to enjoy a glass of prosecco, catch up with each other after finishing the course, and collect their end of year certificates.
Staff chose Nicola Bailey, from Bradford on Avon, to receive the Roper Prize, presented to a student who has gone to exceptional lengths to complete their course.
Miss Bailey, 28, chose to study health and social care as an access student and has a place to study paramedic science at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol.
She said: “Before attending this course, I was working full-time as a senior sports assistant at the University of Bath. For years, I had always wanted to be a paramedic, but I needed to get a C grade in English language and maths at GCSE.
“I worked hard at these courses part-time at Bath College, while still holding down a full-time job at the university, and I got the grades that I needed to enrol on the Access to Higher Education course.
“One of the hardest challenges was having the confidence and belief that I could go back into education and excel in this after leaving school 12 years ago.
“This course is tough and intense, however, having support from fellow students, and the support, commitment and enthusiasm from staff at Bath College makes completing it possible.”
Lesley Colonna-Dashwood runs Colonna and Smalls, a successful coffee shop and roastery in the centre of Bath, with her husband Maxwell. She studied for the Access to HE Science Diploma, and has a place to study physiotherapy at UWE.
She said: “The plan is to do a masters in veterinary science after I have completed the human physiotherapy degree.
“The business is now well-established and last summer I was able to take a back seat. I am still involved, but in an advisory capacity, rather than a hands-on role.
“I have always had a passion for equestrianism and when I was in my teens I aspired to be a vet, however life took a different direction for me and I pursued a different career.
“The Access to Education course is life-changing, it enables you to go and pursue what you have always wanted to do. The course has given me confidence, and even more enthusiasm about going to university than I had at the beginning.
“I know that there is a lot more work to do, and a long road ahead, but the course has given me the belief that I can do it.”
Bath College Principal Laurel Penrose attended the awards ceremony to meet students and hand out course certificates.
She told students: “Access is one of the hardest courses. We don’t really tell you that in the beginning, but at the end we congratulate you on passing it in style. I believe doing the access course will give you that stepping stone for a very bright future, so congratulations to you all.”