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Outstanding Exeter College Students Honoured at Awards Night

Exeter College’s Student Awards celebration has recognised the exceptional individuals whose determination and aspiration stood out in what has been a record-breaking year of achievement at the College.

Over 180 guests attended the glamourous awards ceremony, held at the Mercure Rougemont Hotel on 18 January 2024, to celebrate inspirational students from a wide range of College courses.

The awards mark the culmination of yet another outstanding year at the College. Highlights include the College’s best ever academic and vocational results and a full Ofsted inspection in which Exeter College became the first college in England to secure the two top grades of Outstanding (overall effectiveness) and Strong (how effectively the College meets the skills needs of the area). Students have continued to shine in every area of College life, with standout performances in every faculty and curriculum area.

John Laramy CBE, Chief Executive and Principal at Exeter College said

“I would like to congratulate all of tonight’s award winners. It is truly fantastic to see students from all subject areas here this evening, representing the wide range of courses and opportunities available at Exeter College.

“We are extremely proud of all our students, who contributed to one of the most successful years in the long history of the College, with an impressive array of results and achievements. I would like to thank all our students and our staff, who collectively, have yet again shown why we are rated as one of the best colleges in the entire nation. I would like to wish all those students who completed their studies with us last year the very best for the future, keep in touch! 

“I must also extend a massive thank you to our partners, sponsors, and employers, whose collaboration, challenge and commitment means that as a College, we are able to offer amazing opportunities and experiences to our students.” 

The College was delighted to welcome Professor Lisa Roberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, as the Guest of Honour at the awards.  

Lisa Roberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: 

“I am delighted to have been invited as the Guest of Honour for Exeter College’s annual student awards. These outstanding students will be our future leaders, and having the opportunity to celebrate their achievements with them was a real pleasure. They have worked so hard and they fully deserve their recognition. 

“The University of Exeter and Exeter College have a longstanding partnership, and a shared purpose and ambition to see the city of Exeter, and the South West region, thrive. Both institutions believe very strongly in the power of education to change the world for the better, and together we are making a lasting difference to our region, through improving skills, breaking down barriers to attainment, and training the next generation. It is a partnership we deeply value, and one we hope will go from strength-to-strength in the coming years.”

The 26 award winners enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on their impressive achievements and the chance to catch up with past tutors and teachers.  

Kaja Potoniec was awarded Higher Apprentice of the Year after being a standout student on the HNC Civil Engineering Apprenticeship. Kaja also undertook two additional Level 5 units which allowed her to progress to a Degree Apprenticeship at the University of Exeter. Kaja says it was unexpected when she was told she had won this award. 

“I had a really good learning experience. Everyone was really helpful and the fact that I could do the extra modules which helped me progress was fantastic, I just couldn’t have done it without the support of the College. Tonight shows that anything is possible really.” 

Nick Jarvis was a member of the Learner Leadership Team and a Student Representative, sharing feedback in the Learner Voice forum, as well as volunteering at College events. He studied A Levels in Maths, Physics and French. He was awarded EXtra Learner of Year. Nick is currently on a gap year and will be studying Physics at university this September. He said; 

“I really enjoyed College, everyone was really welcoming. I had a lot of medical challenges and I was given a lot of support. 

“All the work with EXtra really helped my interpersonal skills and built up my confidence, it was nice to speak with students I wouldn’t normally meet. 

“It’s been a really nice experience tonight, it’s great to see my tutor again and my teachers so I’m very happy to be here.” 

Katie Carlo came to Exeter College from the Teign School and studied the T Level in Education and Childcare and gained an impressive Distinction Star. She won T Level Learner of the Year and is now doing an Education Degree at Cardiff University. 

“When I first came in tonight, and saw it was so grand, I was a bit nervous but then I saw my tutor which was so nice. It was a pleasant surprise to get my award, I was happy. With my course, it turns out, I was one of seven in the country to get that grade which was a bit of a shock. 

“I wanted to come to Exeter because of the city and to meet more people and have the choice of the variety of courses. I chose the T Level and really enjoyed my placement; it was arranged very easily, and it was a good distance from home. College was very flexible in helping me with what I wanted so I did a Teaching Assistant role.” 

The final Award of the evening is the #ExeCollProud Award, chosen for those who have gone above and beyond, often overcoming exceptional circumstances. This year the Award went to a group of learners who impressed everyone from the moment they arrived and started studying on the fast track GCSE programme. This award went to Irsana Dombaeva, Kamila Elyasi, Sapida Elyasi, Hadees Khan, Zaid Razeen and Zainab Razeen who had some incredible success with the GCSEs they sat in the summer, all now moving on to advanced courses at the College. Sapida Elyasi said; 

“I can confidently say that one of the most enjoyable things about studying at Exeter College is the supportive community, staff members (teachers and others), that are willing to help and support however they can, allowing us to fully express ourselves and our potential.  

“It didn’t feel like we have been pressured to do anything during preparation for GCSEs and even though everyone is studying more complicated courses now, we still feel that support from everyone in College.  

“College is a place where we’re not afraid to ask for help. We are all grateful for this opportunity and for being nominated, it means a lot to us.” 

Zainab Razeen added; 

“Receiving this award has further motivated me to continue striving for excellence in my academic pursuits. It’s a reminder of the impact that determination and perseverance can have on achieving our goals. I am excited to build upon this nomination and continue my educational journey with enthusiasm and dedication.” 

The College would like to congratulate all the 2024 award winners and say a big thank you to all the sponsors who make this inspirational event possible. 

Award Category  Student Sponsor 
Award for Academic Excellence  Joshua Dargan Peninsula Project Consulting 
Award for Academic Excellence  Zoe Garner Exeter Science Park 
IB Learner of the Year  Eleanor Keay Foot Anstey 
Award for Vocational & Technical Excellence   William Turner Focus 
Award for Vocational & Technical Excellence  Sennen O’Connor Exeter Aerospace 
T Level Learner of the Year  Katie Carlo Stagecoach 
Apprentice of the Year Aimee Fantham Taylor Lewis 
Higher Apprentice of the Year  Kaja Potoniec Willmott Dixon  
Digital Media Academy Student of the Year  Hugo Brizs Nevada Construction 
Performing Arts Academy Student of the Year Elsie Gordon Cartridges Law 
Michael Caines Academy Student of the Year  Bryher Wilson Lympstone Manor  
Reach Academy Student of the Year  Therese Walsh University of Exeter  
Esports Academy Student of the Year  Oscar Bonner Timewade 
Sports Academy Student of the Year Daniel Preece Exeter “CITY” Community Trust 
School of Art Student of the Year Maisie Pepperell Pollards 
ESOL Student of the Year Pamfiluta Petrescu Refugee Support Devon 
The HILL Student of the Year Loui Benthall Coreus 
Bootcamp Learner of the Year Lucy Yates digiLab  
Higher Technical Learner of the Year Daniel Leigh Optix Solutions 
EXtra Learner of the Year Nicholas Jarvis Exeter Cathedral 
The #ExeCollProud Award  Irsana Dombaeva, Kamila Elyasi, Sapida Elyasi, Hadees Khan, Zaid Razeen and Zainab Razeen GWR