A Kensington and Chelsea College student, who overcame several hurdles throughout her education to land a spot at university, has been honoured with a prestigious award at the House of Lords.
Rebecca Smith was presented with the highly sought after Helena Kennedy Foundation Award in recognition of her achievement in reaching Higher Education.
The single mum-of-one not only rebuilt her life through education following an abusive relationship but also overcome dyslexia to gain her place at university.
‘I was in an abusive relationship for a long time. It was a terrifying situation but I found the courage to break free and change my life. Despite it being a turbulent time I was determined to learn and make something of myself. I would definitely advise people to get out of negative situations in life and strive for more. Find out what youâ€™re interested in and learn about it because it could lead to a better life. You have to learn to help yourself before others can help you.’
Rebecca was selected from more than 450 nominations across the country and received her award and a £1500 bursary towards the cost of her study from human rights lawyer and peer Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.
Speaking about her win she said:
‘I was shocked when I found out I had won. I kept thinking someone would call me to say it was a mistake and take the award away! Being a single mum and studying for a degree can be financially draining so the bursary is going to be a big help. I feel really lucky to have been selected for an award, especially as it meant a trip down to the House of Lords!’
Rebecca, who hopes to pursue a career in fashion after completing her degree, will also receive mentoring and training from the Foundation as part of the bursary package.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, who is also the President of the Helena Kennedy Foundation, said:
‘I am delighted to have presented Rebecca with one of our awards in recognition of her huge achievements in reaching university against the odds. Each student who receives an award has been selected because they are special and have shown real talent and determination.’
Wes Streeting, Chief Executive of the Helena Kennedy Foundation, said:
‘Kensington and Chelsea College should be justifiably proud of the talented student they have produced and we look forward to working with Rebecca to help her get the most out of studying at university.’
Rebecca was nominated for the award by her college tutor Phil Ritson, who described her as a
‘determined student with the ability to succeed in circumstances where others would have given up.’
The Helena Kennedy Foundation was set in the late eighties with the aim of encouraging and supporting disadvantaged students from further education colleges to access university. The awards in particular offer students a range of bursaries to support them financially whilst attending university.
Date published: 12 December 2011