Student whose family was killed in Syria wins New City College award

Anas Murdi picks up his award from actor Richard Blackwood. Photograph: NCC

A student whose family was tragically killed in the war in Syria was one of the winners at New City College’s (NCC) annual achievement awards last week.

Anas Murdi Mohammed Al-Humsi took home the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) adult student of the year award at a ceremony in London compered by former EastEnders star Richard Blackwood.

An NCC spokesperson said: “Anas suffered personal tragedy when his family were killed in the war in Syria.

“He arrived in the UK, having made most of the journey on foot, and entered the college’s ESOL programme and has made such fast progress, impressing his teachers with his determination to learn to help him pursue a career as an electrician.”

The achievement awards are the highlight of the academic year at NCC, which grew out of a merger of Hackney Community College and Tower Hamlets College in 2016.

A total of 28 prizes were handed out to students, many of whom are dealing with personal difficulties, across all areas of the curriculum.

Fouziha Rahman was awarded the Corporation Award for Adult Learner of the Year.

She joined the college’s Access course after recovering from an accident which left her with a three per cent chance of survival.

The spokesperson said: “Fouziha suffered a brain injury and is slower in processing information than other students.

“Despite this, she completed her demanding Access course and achieved 11 distinctions and four merits in the 15 graded units on the course.”

Mohammed Abdul Abid Hussain with Blackwood and college principal Gerry McDonald. Photograph: NCC

Mohammed Abdul Abid Hussain, who is studying for a BTEC science diploma, was given the principal’s award for outstanding academic achievement.

The college revealed that Mohammed has “battled kidney disease and has faced completing his studies alongside making decisions about transplants”, adding: “He hasn’t let that stop him achieving top grades and placements at two of London’s leading medical hospitals.”

The health and social care student of the year award went to Noufissa Benelbaida, an adult learner who returned to work after being a full-time mum to her six children.

The spokesperson said: “She secured a place on the highly competitive and prestigious King’s College University midwifery degree course, and excelled on her Access to HE course.

“She did not let her severe dyslexia stop her meeting the academic challenge and produced written work to a very high standard.”

Award winner Noufissa Benelbaida (left) takes her seat. Photograph: NCC

Other notable winners included Bernadina dos Santos, a single mother from west Africa who won the creative arts and fashion student of the year award, and Arkin Attila-Murray, who was recognised for his excellent contribution to college life for his film on knife crime.

Arkin, inspired by the artist Banksy, developed an intelligent, emotive short film which the college says was successful in getting young people to stop and think.

Speaking at the event, host Richard Blackwood said: “I’ve been really impressed by tonight’s award winners. There has been some amazing personal stories of overcoming the odds.

“Events like this give the students a taste of success and show them they are on the right path and by working hard there can be more rewards for them later on in their lives.”

New City College principal Gerry McDonald said on the night: “I am very proud of all our award winners this evening. We have heard many awe inspiring stories tonight of young people overcoming great personal challenges to succeed.

“It is a fantastic testament to their ability and strength of character and the importance they place on their education.

“I wish each and every one of our award winners the very best of luck on the next stage of their journey and I am confident that they will continue to achieve great success.”

NCC is the second largest college in London with 20,000 students aged 14 and upwards.

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