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Student of the Year 2022

12th Jul 2022

Rona Smith, Student of the Year 2022

There is no college more proud of its students than ours and there is no more humbling event in our college calendar than the Student of the Year Awards at Blenheim Palace. This is the evening where we recognise the achievements of students who have overcome challenge and adversity in all its forms.

This year, the judges were faced with some particularly tough decision making as the standard of entries was so high. we were particularly proud to recognise the achievements of student, Rona Smith, who took her place as Overall Student of the Year

Usually, in these situations we get a quote from the winner to say how delighted they are but this was different. Rona told her tutor, Donna Simpson: "I'm really tired today after all the crying last night and I don't want to cry again. I'm so sorry for all my crying but we've been together for five years and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I really hope to come back and let you know how I am getting on."

Rona has been a popular and charismatic student at the College. Her tutor, Donna Simpson, said: "Rona feels like part of the furniture. She is an amazing young woman who has succeed in everything she has tried, not only will she achieve at least a triple Distinction, she has grown in confidence. She has also taught us so much as teachers in how we truly ensure we deliver inclusive lessons. I have had the privilege of teaching her for all these years and I'm certain my spelling has improved as she definitely let me know if I spelt a word wrong. The highlights for us working with Rona haven't necessarily been in the classroom, being with Rona on the National Citizenship Service residential will always be a great memory and an experience Rona described as one of her best times. During the five years in college Rona has been taught by an amazing group of teachers and Learning Support Assistants who have truly ensured she has had the best education possible".

Rona has worked with restaurants to produce menus in Braille in the past and her ambition is to work with visually impaired students to teach them Braille. She will be moving on to The Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford for a year to learn independent living skills.

The Orangery at Blenheim Palace has been the venue for the Awards for several years. The ceremony, hosted by Principal Jacqui Canton, recognises the achievements of two students from each of the College's eleven faculties who receive their accolades in front of proud family members.

Second and third in the Overall Student of the Year category were Harry McEwan, who participates in the Fast Forward programme and who was rewarded for his "his hard work and consistent dedication to his education and progression", and Louis Barnard, currently studying a Level 2 Diploma in Horse Care, who was lauded for his "exceptional achievement and motivation in all elements of his course".

Principal, Jacqui Canton, said: "The Student of the Year Awards really are why we all work in further education. To help and enable these young people to flourish and achieve their full potential is both a privilege and a pleasure. We are immensely proud of all of them."

The winners for each faculty were:-

Creative Industries

Overall Achievement: M Haggar-Rosewall

Outstanding Performance: Lucy Gledhill

WEF Isabella Spencer Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts: Robert Edwards

English & Mathematics

Overall Achievement 16-18: Alex Moulster

Overall Achievement 19+: Annika Boreham

Access 2 Learning

Overall Achievement: Harry McEwan

Outstanding Performance: Joe Darko

Higher Education

Overall Achievement: Sam Hudson

Outstanding Performance: Eric Mills

Landbased Industries

Overall Achievement: Susie Berry

Outstanding Performance: Louis Barnard

Service Industries

Overall Achievement: Rona Smith

Outstanding Performance: Holly Chapman


Overall Achievement: Tamzin Johnson

Outstanding Performance: William Haywood


Overall Achievement: William Sutton

Outstanding Performance: Matthew Hookway

The Oxfordshire Business Enterprise School

Overall Achievement: Ryan Kellow

Outstanding Performance: Kathleen Hamacher

Employment Services/Apprenticeships

Overall Achievement: Tarzina Khatun

Outstanding Performance: Victoriia Priyima

Oxfordshire Adult Learning

Overall Achievement: Lisa Fisher

Outstanding Performance: Perwana Hakimi

Huge congratulations and thanks go to each and every one of you; you all thoroughly deserve the recognition of the college for your outstanding contributions. To those who are leaving us this summer - we will miss you! To those who will be returning in the Autumn - we very much look forward to seeing where your journeys take you next.

Jacqui Canton, Principal of Abingdon & Witney College
Jacqui Canton hosts Student of the Year 2022