A teenager from Stoke-on-Trent has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for her determination and dedication to helping others.
Sibgha Amin gives up her own time to support students in difficulty at Stoke on Trent College and helps to ensure young people are kept safe from extremism. She has been a driving force behind developing links between the college and the wider community.
The 18-year-old accomplished all this while studying Health and Social Care full time. She was previously awarded for her outstanding work by the college and now she’s one of just three finalists in the Young Student of the Year Awards, run by the Association of Colleges.
Sibgha, who has four younger brothers, says she was inspired to help others by her own experience growing up. She says: “I was called a terrorist and punched in the face. I asked myself, why did this happen to me and why should it happen to anyone? Was it because I was wearing a headscarf or because I’m from Asian origin? Whatever it was, it didn’t stop me from becoming who I am now, it inspired me to speak about it and created a vision in my mind to work with people who have experienced similar situations.”
Sibgha joined Stoke on Trent College at 16 where, in addition to excelling in her studies, she got involved in the student council, mentoring and fundraising work. She became a spokesperson for young people on the Stoke-on-Trent City Council Prevent Board, where she discussed key issues, shared best practice and influenced future policy to ensure young people are kept safe from extremism within the local community.
She gave up much of her own time to act as a peer mentor, supporting fellow students with emotional, social and educational difficulties. She also organised a number of charity events, including a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea to support All Saints Church after it was targeted by vandals, which raised over £500 and was attended by the Lord Mayor and local MPs. Sibgha was instrumental in organising a Harvest Festival and collecting produce for a local foodbank to support people in the community who are struggling to make ends meet.
She says: “I love being able to help others and the feeling of knowing that I am doing some good. I enjoyed the peer mentoring because I felt that I could make a real difference to someone. I like to keep myself busy and my extracurricular activities all helped with developing my confidence, boosting my self-esteem and work readiness.”
Sibgha has become such an asset to Stoke on Trent College that a new, paid role has been created for her as Student Ambassador. She has deferred her place at Keele University to study Psychology with Counselling until next year, so that she can spend a year working at the college while also training as a mentor. She says: “This will give me invaluable experience that I’ll need in the future as a counsellor.”
Sibgha said she was amazed when she heard that she had been shortlisted for the Student of the Year Award. The results will be announced on Tuesday 19 November at the AoC Annual Conference and Exhibition in Birmingham. She says: “Just knowing that someone had even thought to nominate me was a win but now I’m one of the finalists, I can’t believe it. Anyone is capable of success, it just takes the right guidance. My advice for anyone out there is don’t give up. There is help and support out there so please look for it.”
Denise Brown, Principal of Stoke on Trent College, says: “Sibgha has been an integral part of the college during her time with us and has made the college a better place to be for all learners. On top of her impressive list of extracurricular fundraising, support and mentoring activities, Sibgha maintained 94% attendance and completed all work by required deadlines, managing to secure a place at Keele University. She has matured into an exemplary student who we are all exceptionally proud of.”
Denise adds: “Sibgha deserves special recognition for all she has achieved through applying herself to her learning and making the most of all the support available both from the college and the partners we work with within the local community. We wish her the very best of luck in the Student of the Year awards – everyone at the college is rooting for her.”
Stoke on Trent College has around 10,000 students each year on full-time and part-time study programmes, apprenticeships, professional qualifications and university-level courses. For more information visit stokecoll.ac.uk.