Two Cardiff Metropolitan University Alumni have been commended for their inspirational achievements in widening access to adult education through community learning at an event hosted by Vale of Glamorgan Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration Lis Burnett earlier this month.
The 2019 Inspire! Adult Learning Awards organised by the Vale Learning Network recognise individuals, families, projects and organisations who have shown outstanding passion, commitment and drive to improve themselves, their community or workplace through learning.
The three awards - Life Change and Progression, Life Change Champion and the Gail Hughes Award for Community Learning - highlight the University's commitment to helping make adult learning more accessible to a broader range of people. Through initiatives like the Community to Campus programme, Cardiff Met, have helped over 100 students, who otherwise might not have accessed further education, onto foundation courses at the University.
Accepting the award for Life Change and Progression, Leah Twinney, 30, left school with several GCSEs. After progressing to become a senior stylist in Cardiff, Leah was looking for ways to further her hairdressing career. She joined a one-day Cardiff Met Summer School on teaching adults, before signing up for a Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) course the following September.
Leah said: "Reaching my career goals in terms of hairdressing, I knew that there had to be a way of using my skills in a different way. I attended Cardiff Met's taster day and later enrolled onto the PCET programme with the goal of learning to teach my passion.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever step away from full-time hairdressing, but not only do I now have the most rewarding career that I'm enjoying tremendously, I have also grown so much as a person."
Kayleigh Williams, 28, accepted the Life Change Champion Award after overcoming barriers that might have stopped others from continuing in education. Through regular meetings and support she quickly took to university life, even joining the University's First Campus support group helping other young people who have been in care.
Kayleigh said: "If you had told the 16-year-old me that I would achieved a University degree, I would never have believed you. I always enjoyed education but through difficulties at home, I didn't have good attendance levels at school.
"I cried when I was accepted to University – I didn't think I would get through or that I was smart or presentable enough. Studying at Cardiff Met has given me a new outlook on life."
The Gail Hughes Award for Community Learning is an annual award established in memory of the Vale of Glamorgan's late Community Outreach Officer, Gail Hughes. The award recognises exceptional commitments to widening access to education in the Cardiff and Vale communities.
On collecting the Gail Hughes Award for Community Learning, Jan Jones, Cardiff Met's Community Engagement Officer, said: "I'm thrilled to see Leah and Kayleigh win these awards. Together with the Gail Hughes Award, these accolades recognise Cardiff Met's contributions to education in the community and are testament to the value of education for all ages.
"These taster courses are delivered in community venues through our Community to Campus programme with the aim of making them accessible to as many people as possible. They are intended to remove barriers and widen participation, reaching those who would not have previously had the opportunity to study at a higher education level."
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration for the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Lis Burnett, said: "These awards recognise the commitment and passion for education that we know exists here in the Vale of Glamorgan. Leah and Kayleigh have achieved so much in the face of some really tough challenges. They are as passionate about education as they are their work. It's a real pleasure to celebrate their success with them.
"The commitment by Cardiff Metropolitan University to adult learning is testament to the institutions passion for learning and strengthening communities through education. I'm thrilled to be able to acknowledge their commitment to learning with the Gail Hughes Award."
For more about Cardiff Met's Widening Access courses, visit the Widening Access pages.
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