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“I feel prepared for the real world”: student with autism who’s succeeded at every level

MK College Group has named a learner who has made incredible progress during their five years at MK College and the South Central Institute of Technology its overall Student of the Year at its annual awards ceremony.

Jacob Vale started his journey at MK College in 2017 on the College’s New Horizons course in the Inclusive Learning department. He then progressed onto studying Level 1 in Art and Design in 2018, and subsequently the Level 2 and 3 courses in this subject before starting an HNC in Web Development and Graphic Design at the College Group’s South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT) in Bletchley in September 2022. Being a learner with autism, Jacob has faced numerous challenges throughout his time at the College Group but through his hard work and determination, he has excelled in his chosen courses and has achieved Distinctions in several units.

The College Group’s Students of the Year ceremony took place at the magnificent Silverstone Circuit and honoured the incredible achievements of 22 learners across MK College, the South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT) and the College Group’s prison education services. The award winners were recognised for their efforts and achievements in their courses, the roles they play in their wider communities and the ways in which they live the College Group’s mission and values. A panel then chose Jacob as the winner of the overall Student of the Year prize.

Jacob Vale, student at the South Central Institute of Technology, said: “I have reached heights I never could have imagined thanks to this College. The one thing that stands out for me the most from my time at MK College and the SCIoT is that I feel prepared for the real world. Given all the knowledge I’ve obtained from these different courses, I certainly think I could pursue my own career in freelance graphic design and I’m looking forward to continuing to work towards this ambition.”

Dan Vine, a Digital Coach at the South Central Institute of Technology, commented: “I’m so excited that Jacob was chosen as the overall Student of the Year for the College Group. I was in a long line of people wanting to nominate Jacob for this award. His journey has been epic and we wanted to recognise and celebrate all that Jacob has accomplished.

“Jacob is a standout student – achieving good grades and becoming a confident member of the class may not sound extraordinary but with the challenges Jacob has faced, getting to this stage in his career at the College Group is amazing. When Jacob started at the SCIoT, he spent a lot of his first day sat in a park with me because he was too anxious to join his classmates, but now he confidently takes part in class discussions, delivers presentations to his peers and achieves Distinctions in his assessments. It’s been a pleasure to teach Jacob – to have shared in his journey for such a long time and seeing him blossom as a designer and get his confidence and his skills to where they are, it just makes the job all the more enjoyable.

Sally Alexander, CEO and Group Principal of MK College Group, said: “Jacob’s story is an incredible example of how much our learners can progress and grow during their time with us. Jacob has shown that with hard work, determination and the right support, you can overcome the challenges you face and work towards your goals for the future. Like all of tonight’s winners, Jacob is an inspiration for his peers. MK College Group is all about helping people build great futures for themselves, whoever they are and whatever their dreams. We’re proud to have been able to help Jacob and all of our award winners achieve so much.”


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