STUDENTS and lecturers are celebrating after scooping awards in a regional competition.
The One Awards saw accolades handed out to six North East students – including two from Sunderland.
The scheme, formerly OCN North East Region awards, was introduced to celebrate the achievements of people who have overcome barriers and obstacles in order to succeed on the Access to Higher Education Diploma.
Learners were celebrated in three categories – Outstanding Academic Achievement, Outstanding Commitment to Study and Commitment to Supporting Others.
Sunderland College student Helal Ahmed from Millfield, Sunderland, won the Commitment to Supporting Others Award.
The 20-year-old social sciences student was the youngest member of his group, but still managed to complete the course a week early so he could carry out two weeks’ voluntary work in Bangladesh.
His enthusiasm for his education also led to people from his local community taking up places on the Access course.
Highly commended in the Outstanding Academic Achievement category was Maria Freeman, a 37-year-old former health student at Sunderland College, who is now studying for a degree in Public Health at Sunderland University.
She said: “When I was younger, university was just a dream, and not for the likes of us.
“When I started the Access to Education course, if found that it gave me so much more confidence and that made me want to do so much better as well.
“I felt amazing when I found I had a place at university. I actually cried.”