Aspiration Awards 2022 - Learner of the Year Winner: Juwairia Junaid
The Learner of the Year category recognises individuals who are developing themselves through vocational qualifications from NCFE and making positive improvements to their lives. This year’s winner was Juwairia Junaid, who is currently studying Level 2 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care at Leeds City College.
An inspiration to all
Juwairia is described by her tutors as a “truly outstanding learner”. Arriving early for every session, her attitude to learning, enthusiasm and engagement within the lessons inspires all those around her. She asks thought-provoking questions, allowing teachers to use responses to analyse the units in greater detail.
Her work is to an excellent standard and she’s on target to achieve an A*. As Juwairia is fully blind, she manages an array of different machinery, technology and software to give her access to her studies, as well as the help of a learning assistant to support her with moving around the classroom and building. All of this, however, completely fades into the background within the classroom.
Not just an “outstanding learner”
This outstanding attitude doesn't just translate to Juwairia’s studies at college. In her spare time, she’s a co-host at her local radio station where she presents a magazine-style show: ‘The Disabled Table’. On the show, she discusses the experiences of people with disabilities in a light-hearted manner which she shares with her tutor group and leads to important, relevant discussions within their sessions.
Juwairia has provided expert knowledge and insight into the use of braille as a communication tool and the rest of the group benefited enormously from this as part of the sessions within the Communication Unit. As a result, her teachers have been provided with the opportunity to undergo training on how to understand, read and print basic braille as part of their CPD, which will then be cascaded to facilitating and planning for additional needs and formats within the college.
Juwairia said: “We talk about disabled stories and experiences, and we try to make it more human. We always have to put in ten times more effort than anyone else and I think people don’t see it – that's the main struggle.
“I was born fully blind, and it’s always been like that. I guess - people find this really weird when I say this - but some of the stuff I do right now, I don’t think I’d actually be doing if it wasn’t for me being blind.
“There’s been a lot of people that have been there for me. I think I just want to do the same for others. If we’re talking career-wise, I want to do counselling, but it’s not just that. I want to work with people with mental health issues.”
Tracy Jardine, Programme Manager at Leeds City College, commented: “Juwairia’s disability is always secondary to her approach to her learning. Her positivity, humour, mature outlook, discussion and enquiry skills make her an exceptional learner who is always improving overall learning for everyone.
“She’s always on task and a confident vocal learner, ensuring that if she doesn’t understand something first time round, she will ask until she does. This is then represented in the excellent understanding demonstrated in her written work. The award is a significant public acknowledgement of the hard work that Juwairia invests into her studies and I’m sure it’ll motivate her to go on to achieve greater successes in the future. She is such a worthy winner and we’re all so proud of her."
Catherine Sezen, Senior Policy Manager (FE) at the Association of Colleges, said: “I was honoured to be asked to judge the NCFE learner of the year award and humbled by the determination and resilience shown by all the finalists. Congratulations to Juwairia.”
Our Learner of the Year 2022 Winner: Juwairia Junaid of Leeds City College