Health and social care student who has played vital role on Covid-19 frontline response receives national award

The ‘Learner of the Year’ category in our Aspiration Awards honours learners who are developing themselves through vocational qualifications from NCFE or CACHE, making positive improvements to their lives. This year’s ‘Highly Commended’ award was presented to 18-year old Elica Hale, a CACHE Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care student at Halesowen College in the West Midlands.

A passion for caring for others

Described by her tutor as an “inspirational student”, Elica started her Health and Social Care studies in 2018, undertaking the Level 2 Extended Diploma before progressing to Level 3.

Inspired by her mum, who works as a trainee nursing assistant at the Birmingham Women’s Hospital, Elica knew from an early age that she wanted to work in the healthcare sector, a vocation which she has only grown more passionate about since enrolling at Halesowen College.

Supported by her tutors, Elica has worked hard to achieve the highest grades possible in her classwork, receiving an A* overall for her Level 2 qualification, and has regularly received praise from mentors and external assessors for her attitude to work and exemplary performance while on placement. What makes Elica so special however, is how she spends her time outside of college.

Going the extra mile

A conscientious young carer, to help supplement her learning and provide her with an outlet to practice the skills learned in the classroom, upon completing her Level 2 qualification, Elica signed up as a NHS ‘bank’ worker and secured work as a Health Care Assistant on the wards at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. While bank hours are usually flexible to workers’ availability, in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and on top of her studies, Elica has found herself working practically full-time to support patients infected with Covid-19.

"It has been really hard, just with the whole situation of whether I would catch the virus or whether I could give it to my family but, it’s worth it,” Elica said.

“To be able to go to work and care for the patients and make sure that they feel at home, especially when they are unable to see their loved ones, it’s amazing.

“I really enjoy seeing how patients develop and the incredible difference that high quality care can make to someone’s condition from one day to the next. Through my work at the hospital, I get to see this on a day to day basis and I’m learning new skills all of the time.”

A bright future ahead

Looking to the future, Elica is aspiring to a career in nursing. Upon completing her Level 3 qualification, she wants to progress into adult nursing as this will open up more career opportunities for her in the wider health care sector. Elica also has a keen interest in mental health and is considering further study to enable her to work in this area.

Melanie Taylor, Assistant Principal at Halesowen College, was one of two tutors who nominated Elica for the Learner of the Year Award. She said: “Elica is developing into a confident, determined and mature student and health care professional. Her coursework is of an excellent standard and despite taking on extra shifts at the hospital during the Covid-19 crisis, she is still finding the time to complete work for her course and communicate with teachers whilst working at home.

“Elica is aspiring to a career in nursing, which we have no doubt she will achieve in the future. She is a caring, dedicated and hardworking student and it is with great pride that we nominated her for an NCFE Aspiration Award for Learner of the Year.”

“I’m so excited to have won the Highly Commended award,” Elica added.

“When my tutor called me to tell me that I had won, it was a complete shock, I never dreamed that I could win anything like this!

“I really want to get into university to study towards my adult nursing qualification and having this award will look great on my application and my CV in the future. I am really proud of myself and I can’t thank my tutors enough for putting me forward.”

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