Learner of the Year award for Leeds City College student Juwairia

An outstanding student at Leeds City College is celebrating after winning a major educational award.

Juwairia Junaid, who is studying the Level 2 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care, was named  Learner of the Year in the NCFE Aspiration Awards 2022.

Juwairia was born blind so uses a lot of different technology and software to access her work. She is also accompanied by a learning assistant to help her move around the classrooms and college buildings.

Despite those extra challenges, she is excelling in her studies and is on course to achieve top marks. On top of that, she has also found time to co-host a local radio show that shines a light on issues affecting the disabled community.

‘A win for the whole disabled community’

A film crew from educational charity and awarding body, NCFE, visited Juwairia at the college’s Quarry Hill Campus recently to interview her and break the news about the award.

Juwairia, who was told on camera by Head of Health, Science and Social Care at Leeds City College, Sheila Lucciarini, said: “All I can really say is thanks to everyone that’s helped me through all the years!”

She had earlier mentioned that if she won the Learner of the Year accolade it would be ‘a win for the whole disabled community’.

She said: “We always have to put in ten times more effort than anyone else but I think people don’t see it, and 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 it, 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.”

A commitment to helping

Juwairia’s course is precious to her and she is aiming to pursue a career as a CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) therapist, to help people with serious mental health issues.

She said: “I’m doing something I’m really passionate about and that is something I always wanted to do.

“There is a lot I’ve been through in my life and there’s stuff I still have to deal with regularly. There have been a lot of people that have been there for me, I think I just want to do the same for others.”

The Disabled Table meanwhile, which is the radio show Juwairia co-presents, adopts a humorous tone while discussing disabled stories and experiences. She then shares details of those conversations with her tutor group, which often leads to wider debates.

Learner of the Year award winner Juwairia Junaid, co-hosting a radio show

Sharing skills, positivity and humour

Juwairia has also been sharing her expert knowledge of using braille. As a result, her teachers will be undertaking some braille training with a view to using those new skills to enhance the training of students with additional needs.

Delighted with her award win, her tutors have nothing but praise for Juwairia’s commitment and attitude.

Programme Manager, Tracy Jardine, said: “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.

“She is such a worthy winner and we’re all so proud of her.”

See the NCFE’s full article, and film, about Juwairia here.

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