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‘HIs journey has been epic’: Rising to the challenges earns Student of the Year accolade for budding designer

“I FEEL PREPARED for the real world,” says graphic design and web development student Jacob Vale. He has come a long way since his first day on the HNC course at Milton Keynes College Group’s South Central Institute of Technology.

“When Jacob started at the SCIoT, he spent a lot of his first day sat in a park with me because he was too anxious to join his classmates,” recalls digital coach Dan Vine. “But now he confidently takes part in class discussions, delivers presentations to his peers and achieves Distinctions in his assessments.”

It is the reason why Jacob is celebrating after being named overall Student of the Year at the college group’s annual awards ceremony. He was one of 22 winners across the college, SCIoT and Milton Keynes College Group’s prison education services.

Being a student with autism, Jacob has overcome a range of challenges and is now preparing for his career as a freelance graphic designer. “I have reached heights I never could have imagined thanks to this college,” he says. “The one thing that stands out for me the most from my time at MK College and the SCIoT is that I feel prepared for the real world. Given all the knowledge I have obtained from these different courses, I certainly think I could pursue my own career and I am looking forward to continuing to work towards this ambition.”

His journey at Milton Keynes College began in 2017 on the New Horizons course in the Inclusive Learning department. He progressed to studying Level 1 in Art and Design in 2018, followed by Levels 2 and 3 before starting an HNC in Web Development and Graphic Design at the SCIoT in Bletchley in September last year.

Jacob Vale is pictured with Milton Keynes College Group chief executive and group principal Sally Alexander after receiving his award.


“Jacob is a standout student,” says Mr Vine. “Achieving good grades and becoming a confident member of the class may not sound extraordinary but with the challenges Jacob has faced, getting to this stage in his career at the College Group is amazing. It has been a pleasure to teach Jacob. To have shared in his journey for such a long time and seeing him blossom as a designer and get his confidence and his skills to where they are, it just makes the job all the more enjoyable.”

Each award winner was recognised for their efforts and achievements in their courses, the roles they play in their wider communities and the ways in which they live the College Group’s mission and values. A panel then chose Jacob as the winner of the overall Student of the Year prize.

“I am so excited that Jacob was chosen as the overall Student of the Year for the College Group,” says Mr Vine. “I was in a long line of people wanting to nominate Jacob for this award. His journey has been epic and we wanted to recognise and celebrate all that Jacob has accomplished.”

College Group chief executive and group principal Sally Alexander says each winner is an inspiration to others. “MK College Group is all about helping people build great futures for themselves, whoever they are and whatever their dreams. We ared proud to have been able to help Jacob and all of our award winners achieve so much.

“Jacob’s story is an incredible example of how much our learners can progress and grow during their time with us. Jacob has shown that, with hard work, determination and the right support, you can overcome the challenges you face and work towards your goals for the future.”

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