Read our student profiles to find out more about what it’s really like to be a student at Solihull College & University Centre and to discover more about the social scene and support services that are available at both our campuses.
Listed below are profiles of some of our students.
Sajid Ali – Access to Further Education, Business
Sajid started at Solihull College by beginning an Access to Further Education (FE) programme and upon completing this qualification he moved on to start his Level 1 qualification in Business. Sajid was able to take advantage of the additional support services available at the college and believes this benefitted him as support staff gave him the tips he needed. Sajid states “Attending Solihull College was a magnificent experience; it allowed me to interact with students from all different backgrounds.”
Sajid excelled in his course and progressed on to level 2 where he then gained 4 passes and 6 distinctions within the course. Finally, Sajid moved on to complete his level 3 qualification where he did extremely well and gained distinctions throughout earning him 260 UCAS points to allow him to progress on to university.
Throughout Sajid’s time at Solihull College he achieved 5 awards: Student of the Year, Most Improved, Attendance and Punctuality, Commitment to Learning and Outstanding Contribution.
Sajid is now currently studying at the University of Wolverhampton for his Foundation Degree. He explains “The college helped me with the university application process especially with my personal statement for UCAS which is very important.
The teachers at the college provide you with excellent feedback for improvement and they speak clearly and help if you don’t understand something.”
Sajid believes that having strong motivation is key to success and nothing is too difficult if you work hard.
Once Sajid completes his foundation degree at Wolverhampton University he plans to complete his full Honours degree in Law as this is something that he has been passionate about from an early age. Sajid hopes to one day become a criminal lawyer and plans on completing his masters in London.
“I have gained many skills whilst being at the college specifically computer skills. I was nervous when first starting at the college but the tutors are supportive and fully understand. My confidence has grown and I now share my ideas with others. It has been a journey and has changed my life and I feel proud.”
Moe Ahmed – Access to Higher Education, Business & IT
For 26-year-old Moe Ahmed from Solihull, studying the Access to HE with Business and IT at Solihull College allowed him to enter the world of higher education which he knew would be key in providing him with the experience and learning he wanted.
Before starting at the College Moe had been out of education for a while gaining extensive experience by working as a telecommunications consultant in countries such as Dubai and Africa.
Moe had been travelling and working for around 2 years when he realised he needed more, he comments: “I really wanted to get educated and although I considered A levels, the Access to HE course at Solihull College was the quicker route and looked to suit me more”.
With the ambition of reaching university, Moe started at Solihull College and despite feeling daunted about entering full-time education again, he enjoyed it, he comments: “It is a really intense course but I learnt so much; the tutors provide a great environment where you are able to make your mistakes and learn from them – and not be judged. Learning at the College provided a neutral environment that put me on a good path”.
While on the course, Moe said he learnt a lot of new IT skills and packages which has really helped him during his degree. He has just completed his final year at Aston University studying a BSc in International Business and Management, the qualification included a one-year work placement for which he spent at a company in Germany. Moe said the confidence gained during the Access course at the College helped him while in Germany.
Moe has plans to work internationally, already fluent in Arabic and German, he would like to learn Spanish and a range of other languages.
Jack Wood – Aerospace Engineering
Jack has always had a keen interest in aircrafts even from a young age. He spent many years growing up in Tenerife and often saw the Spanish Airforce flying over where he lived, which led to his parents buying gifts, such as replica engines for Jack to build.
When Jack moved back to the UK and progressed with his education he researched the local colleges to see which college offered the best facilities and learning for aerospace engineering; this is where he decided on Solihull College & University Centre to study his Level 3 Aerospace Diploma. Jack explains that moving to College was a big step but one that he feels has been worth it.
“The College has given me a number of good experiences. It’s great that we have facilities such as the aircraft and simulators to work on; there’s no other local college that offers this and the teachers are the best I’ve ever had. They push you and guide you in the right direction, ensuring that you achieve the best you can. The tutors also give you great advice about the industry as they already have the experience.”
Jack has always known that he wanted to be in the RAF and made it his mission to achieve this dream. After deciding he wanted to focus on avionics he began the long application process for the RAF and after completing a number of application forms and tests he received the news he had been awaiting for a number of years; Jack had been accepted into the RAF.
Jack commented: “I can’t wait to start; I’m really excited to begin working with the RAF. Solihull College has given me the confidence and knowledge I needed to succeed. I could have applied to the RAF when I was 16 after my GCSEs but I knew that this course would give me the extra knowledge and confidence needed to progress in the RAF.”
Vicki Rhodes – Animal Management
Vicki Rhodes attended Solihull College for 2 years to complete her BTEC Level 3 course in Animal Management. Vicki knew from an early age that she wanted to be a veterinary surgeon and was determined to follow the path to her dream career; she knew the exact route that she needed to follow to be successful.
After visiting the college Vicki knew that Solihull College was the right place for her as she said “the facilities were amazing and at my enrolment interview the staff were all really helpful and friendly.”
After showing her commitment and dedication over the 2 years on the course Vicki gained her BTEC qualification and her next step was university. Vicki’s tutor Emma Collingswood said “Vicki successfully gained a place on the Level 3 National Diploma in Animal Management (now the Extended Diploma in Animal Management) with clear career aspirations of becoming a veterinary surgeon. Throughout the qualification Vicki was an exemplar student who was focused on gaining knowledge, a variety of work experience and developing her academic and life skills to enable her to gain a place on veterinary science at university. Staff were able to assist Vicki in achieving this goal by supporting her in gaining the required grades, facilitating opportunities outside of college and guiding her with her application. Veterinary Science is a very competitive route for any student to be accepted onto and to be successful a student needs to be focused, determined and prepared to make themselves standout academically and vocationally. Vicki certainly achieved all these things and we are delighted to be a part of her journey in reaching her career aspiration.”
Vicki explained how her tutors at Solihull College helped her with her university application and also ensured that she made the best use of her time whilst studying.
“It was very tough to get into university and I knew I needed to stand out.” Vicki attended an Easter School through VETNET LNN at the University of Liverpool where she hoped to impress and be offered an interview at the university with an offer to study. Vicki was one of those successful students who made it to the interview stage and she explained how the course at the college helped her to prepare “I had experience at Solihull College with many of the different situations that were asked about in the interview so I felt confident.”
Vicki impressed the University of Liverpool and was offered a place to study to gain her Veterinary Science Degree. After 5 years of hard work Vicki has now completed her degree and will graduate with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and as a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons which allows her to practice.
Vicki’s determination to succeed didn’t stop there as before she had even received her results she had already secured a job at the University College Dublin. Vicki will be working as a Farm Intern for a year before she plans to return to England to start practicing, specialising in large animal practice.
Kane Cartlidge – Apprenticeships
After finishing school Kane went straight into the working world and started as a trainee carpenter for a company. After just under a year in the job Kane knew that this was not the career for him and he wanted to pursue different interests.
He found out about the apprenticeship schemes available at Solihull College and enquired. The college had been working with IAC Group for 7 years and worked with them to offer young people apprenticeships at their company. IAC have over 160 years of automotive interiors expertise and the apprentices that work with them have great opportunities to gain an insight into the business.
Kane was accepted on to the apprenticeship programme in September 2012 and began his 2 year apprenticeship with the college and IAC. Kane explained that he was able to gain a lot of experience through his apprenticeship as IAC are a large company and he was able to see various sectors and gain an interest in a specific section.
After completing his apprenticeship in August 2014 Kane went straight into work with IAC as they offered him a trainee position in procurement. Kane works as a commodity buyer and sources materials for the company and negotiates deals for the best possible price. Kane is responsible for a budget and has the opportunity to travel within his role and has recently been able to go to Germany to meet with suppliers.
Kane explained how the college and IAC both have great ambition for the apprentices and they work together to offer support.
Whilst completing his apprenticeship Kane was able to complete a number of 6 week short courses at the college including sales and marketing, HR amongst others which he believes helped him greatly within his job role.
Kane is now studying towards his Business Management & Communications Foundation Degree at Solihull College and is hoping to complete his Top-Up degree once completing. Kane is also looking to gain a full position in his role and move on from being a trainee and hopes to progress within IAC.
Robyn Leigh Mills – BA Fine Art (Oxford Brookes)
After a couple of false starts in further education, Robyn Leigh Mills was unsure what to do next. It was while working for the council that the answer seemed to appear. Working in social services introduced her to the idea of art therapy as a career. Having always been interested in art, it seemed the perfect way to help people.
To get into the art therapy field, an arts related degree followed by a master’s would be necessary. After impressing at her College interview, Robyn was offered a place on the BA Fine Art Degree accredited by Oxford Brookes University, studied at Solihull College & University Centre.
“The course offered plenty of scope to explore my interests and experiment with different techniques” says Robyn. She comments: “I honestly don’t think I would have got a 1st anywhere else. The tutors were so hands on. If you ever need them you know where to find them”. One of Robyn’s art installations was even showcased in the College’s Blossomfield Campus atrium.
Robyn’s time at the College was completed by winning the Mayor’s Award at Graduation, presented to the student who showed most improvement during their higher education course. She says “It was really surreal – I’ve never won an award before. I was definitely proud of my achievement”.
Now studying for her master’s at Birmingham City University, Robyn is still interested in pursuing art therapy or phototherapy type community-based work, or taking the academic route further by studying for her PhD
Rory Curtis – Barbering
Rory had always wanted to go into the barbering industry but was encouraged to go to university to study his sports science degree.
After completing his degree Rory was involved in a serious car accident and suffered a brain injury and also needed metal plates in both his hip and elbow. After making a brilliant recovery Rory decided that life was too short and followed his passion of barbering.
Rory enrolled on to the level 2 barbering course at Solihull College & University Centre and started to learn more and more about different techniques and also theory including different skin types for treatments and different hair types for styling.
Rory progressed extremely well throughout the course and went on to complete his level 3 barbering qualification. Barbering tutors Leigh-Anne and Jane noticed Rory’s progression and felt he would be an inspiration to other students and asked him if he would like to help guide current students. Rory enjoyed working with students and began his PTLLS teaching qualification, Rory comments “I really have to thank Leigh-Anne for introducing me to teaching and informing me of the qualification.”
Rory now helps to teach and guide current students at Solihull College and is thoroughly enjoying it. As well as teaching Rory works in a salon and would like to be able to split his time between the classroom and the salon in the future.
Emily Collingwood – Cabin Crew & Aviation
Emily originally studied Nursing at University and soon realised that this wasn’t the right career path for her. She then decided to enrol on to the Level 2 Cabin Crew with Level 3 Aviation at the College as she had always had dreams of being a Cabin Crew member.
Emily was very focused when completing her studies as she wanted to work the UK’s largest airline British Airways (BA). Through her course at the College Emily was able to visit BA and complete Safety and Emergency Procedures training as well as learning how to deliver a baby on board and CPR. Emily also had the chance to meet members of BA’s Cabin Crew to gain an insight into the life as a British Airways Cabin Crew member.
After this Emily showed her commitment further by relocating to attend a 6 week induction training to be able to qualify to work for BA. The training programme was strict and very intense, however, upon completing Emily was accepted to become a member of the British Airways Cabin Crew and given her wings.
Emily is now enjoying her new career flying across continents to a variety of places including San Diego, Capetown, Abu Dhabi and Muscat.
Meena Kumari – Beauty Therapy
Meena Kumari completed her level 3 Beauty Therapy course here at Solihull College & University Centre and has been very successful in finding employment.
Meena always had an interest in beauty and started her level 3 course after deciding she wanted a change in her career. Meena showed great commitment throughout her learning which was noted by her tutors and because of Meena’s hard work and dedication she was able to complete her course early and spent her time building her portfolio and assisting other students on the course.
Upon completion of her course Meena began applying for jobs. Meena found it really useful that she gained experience at College with products such as Elemis as this was looked upon favourably by potential employers.
Meena impressed in her interview at The Spa in Birmingham’s Cube at the Mailbox and secured herself a position at the Spa. Meena continues to work hard and has impressed her new employers and received great feedback from her clients.
Meena proves that hard work and determination really does pay off!
Chantelle Powers – Business
Chantelle studied animal care at Solihull College before making the decision that she wanted to learn more about business; she wanted to develop her career prospects and be seen as a business woman.
Chantelle then decided to begin her course at the college studying towards her Foundation Degree in Business Management. Chantelle explains “Essentially everything is a business and I wanted to gain a wider experience and improve my knowledge within business.”
Chantelle started the course and her skills started to develop as she progressed. Chantelle developed in confidence and gained a more in-depth knowledge about business. Chantelle was also able to make use of the careers service at the College after a careers session within the course.
“After the session within the course about careers I spoke with the careers service at the college and they helped me to gain HR work experience at TRW on a voluntary basis. This enabled me to get hands on experience within the sector. The course as a whole has helped me in deciding which specific sector I want to work in.”
Students have a Personal Development module in their first year of studies which Chantelle found useful. The module encouraged Chantelle to think about her career and the specific steps that she needed to take to ensure that she reached her goals. She was able to realise her short and long term hopes and her tutors assisted in putting a plan in place to allow Chantelle to achieve her goals.
As well as the Personal Development module Chantelle enjoyed learning about different management styles, managing work performance and flexibility in work as this related to the career path she wanted to go into – HR. Chantelle was also able to gain experience in areas where she thought she wouldn’t excel. This included designing a marketing model, as Chantelle didn’t see herself as creative she didn’t think this would be something that she enjoyed, but the result was quite the opposite.
Whilst at the College Chantelle was a course rep and worked with staff members to suggest changes to the course for future students. Chantelle spoke of the tutors on her course stating “the tutors were really supportive and helpful. They were all there for you through thick and thin and helped with my career development. Keri, my personal tutor, was brilliant. She would reply to my emails if I had a question straight away.”
After completing her foundation degree Chantelle secured herself a place on an Undergraduate Scheme at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and is extremely pleased. “The course opened doors for me and people might not think that going back to college to study towards a degree rather than going to a large University will help you progress within your career but I have proven that it does. I’m proud of where I am now. The course developed skills such as team work, communication, leadership and customer service which I have been able to transfer into my workplace.”
Chantelle will be going on to complete her top-up degree in September which could possibly be part funded by JLR. Upon completing her top-up degree she hopes to secure her place on a graduate scheme with JLR
Hassan Ali – Computing & IT
Computing & IT student, Hassan Ali recently completed his work experience with high street electronics store Maplin – landing a part-time job to fit around his College course as a result.
With work experience now an integrated part of courses, students leave College further prepared for employment. Edd Summers, Store Manager at the Solihull branch of Maplin comments “We believe it’s important to support young people in gaining experience like this. Working with us, students gain experience of customer service, using the store’s in-house systems, plus they get to learn all about what we sell – particularly relevant to a computing student like Hassan. He’s taken everything in his stride and has already become a great addition to the team”.
Hassan particularly enjoyed interacting with customers, something which he credits for improving his communication skills. He learnt to adapt his style when helping different types of customer. He comments “The staff were very encouraging and helped me if I was struggling with anything. Because I felt like I was part of a team, this allowed for me to become more confident in a shorter amount of time”.
Hassan also believes the experience will help in returning to his course at College. He says “I was given a real insight to all the different electronic components involved in IT and other industries – it was amazing!”
It will soon be time for Hassan to decide the specialism he’d like to study on the second year of his course, with Software Development currently his preferred route. On completion he is considering going to university, where he can further specialise in areas of interest such as coding.
Darren Rea – Construction
Solihull College student Darren Rea has successfully secured a job with Construction Company Thomas Vale who is contracted by Bouygues UK.
Darren started at Solihull College on a 6 week programme where students were given the opportunity to learn skills in the construction field and determine which area they would be particularly interested in. Darren knew he wanted to have a career in the construction industry and he then gained a particular interest in bricklaying whilst on the programme at the College. On completion of the 6 week programme Darren enrolled a Level 1 construction qualification.
Darren’s tutor, Joe Farrell, was impressed by the commitment and effort shown throughout from Darren; all of his practical work gained distinctions and Joe stated “Darren is a model student and his skills have and continue to improve. Darren has worked extremely hard throughout the year and everything he has achieved is because of his hard work.”
Joe Farrell was so impressed with Darren’s work that he approached the construction company that was working on site at Solihull College, to enquire about any work experience opportunities for Darren. Thomas Vale Construction agreed to allow Darren to work on-site 2 days a week to allow him to gain experience in working in the field. After only a week, Darren was asked to increase his hours and work 5 days a week on-site. Shortly after Darren was then offered a job to work with Thomas Vale Construction full-time. Darren commented “I’m over the moon. I was a Level 1 student and now I’m employed; I thought it would take a lot longer to find a job in the industry. I’m really happy and it is what I want to do in life.”
Peter Chester, Site Manager for Thomas Vale Construction has been very impressed with Darren commenting “We take on many apprentices to the company and Darren is a good asset. We are more than happy with his work; he is coming along really well.”
Darren has done exceptionally well and hopes, in the future, to become self-employed, have his own company and even build his own house. In the meantime Darren is continuing with his training whilst working for Thomas Vale.
Anthony Hemphill – Early Years
Anthony always wanted to get into the teaching sector but he had previously studied music and struggled to be really successful within this industry. Anthony’s family had always encouraged him to follow his true passion of teaching as he had a natural ability to work with children.
Anthony decided to change his career path and enrolled on to his HND Early Years course where he instantly excelled. He enjoyed his placements whilst on his course at local schools so much so that rather than only teaching the one activity which was required Anthony planned and taught the whole day.
Anthony also enjoys the theoretical side of his learning as he researches into topics outside of his College hours to ensure his understanding which he hopes will enable his progression within the sector.
Anthony was chosen as a ‘Superlearner’ to represent the College in the summer marketing campaign as someone who went above and beyond within his course. Anthony now hopes to go on to complete his BA Honours in Early Childhood Studies here at the College and eventually become a primary school teacher as well as furthering his education by completing a Masters Degree and possibly a Doctorate.
Tom Lusty – Electrical & Electronic Engineering
Tom studied towards a Higher National Certificate in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Solihull College & University Centre.
Tom showed great enthusiasm over the course and demonstrated his talent within the engineering sector. Alongside his course Tom gave up his spare time to volunteer and help others both within his peer group and as an apprentice mentor meeting young people from local schools.
Through hard work and determination Tom graduated with distinctions within every unit of his HNC and was able to progress on to Coventry University to continue with his studies.
As well as being successful in his studies Tom found employment with Environmental Building Services Couch Perry Wilkes and impresses his colleagues and managers at the company.
Tom has also been recognised within the wider Engineering sector as he received the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineering (CIBSE) West Midlands Education Award 2015 which is a fantastic achievement.
Tom also shows his ambition with his other passion of canoeing as he competes for Great Britain and aims to be able to compete in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Vaness Carty – Graphic Design
Vanessa Carty is a mature student studying Level 3 Access to Higher Education Graphic Design Diploma.
Vanessa previously worked in schools as a teaching assistant and regularly worked with children with special educational needs. Art and design was simply a hobby for Vanessa but she wanted to take her creativeness further and decided to have a career change and do something for herself and be independent. Vanessa stated that “with a family to look after it wasn’t an easy decision and it was going to be a challenge but a good challenge.”
After researching into online courses Vanessa felt that she wouldn’t get exactly what she wanted from an online course. Vanessa turned to Solihull College and enquired about the courses on offer, she felt the courses at the College offered structure, support and the chance to take her creativity further like she had hoped for.
Vanessa started her Access to HE course and even though, she admits it stretched her, the course allowed her to go in directions that she didn’t think she would. Vanessa has excelled within her course and impressed her tutors. Ziggy Tashi, Access Graphic Design Programme Co-ordinator, commented “Vanessa’s immense commitment to her study has been an enormous inspiration to all her colleagues in her group. She succeeded despite considerable obstacles that stood between her, her learning and her desire to eventually become a professional designer. I cannot emphasise enough her immense energy, enthusiasm and the positive outlook and influence that Vanessa bestowed on the group.”
On completing the course Vanessa will be staying at Solihull College to complete a HND in Graphic Design. During the summer break between courses, Vanessa is hoping to be able to showcase her work in galleries. “Through the course I have formed links with other students so we can research into promoting ourselves and our work as well as finding contacts of where we can display our work.”
Vanessa’s future ambitions are to work within a design studio as a professional designer and eventually to own her own graphic design business. Vanessa feels confident in her abilities and commented “I feel that I can succeed and the course has been a stepping stone to a brighter future.”
Cassie Gaunt – Hairdressing
Cassie had been to University to study Fashion Textiles and found herself more interested in hair styling when it came to the fashion shoots and designing. After university Cassie start working in a local pub when she decided it was time for a change.
As a mature student Cassie started her level 2 course in hairdressing at Solihull College, Woodlands Campus. Cassie worked hard and enjoyed the course however; she still had concerns about employment. Despite this, she decided to persist with her course and enrolled on to the level 3 to develop her knowledge and skills even further.
Cassie admits that being a mature student is difficult to find time as well as being a mother and other commitments, however having a college such as Woodlands in her community has helped greatly.
Cassie’s hard work then paid off when she landed herself a job in full-time employment! Cassie was offered a job at hair specialists Optima in Birmingham and has clients who have suffered with diseases such as alopecia and cancer and also those who have hair thinning and hair loss. Cassie really loves the ethos of the company and was really shocked to have the job and goes to work with a smile on her face
Emma Turford-Whitehead – Health & Social Care
Emma was among the first group to study the Foundation Degree in Health & Social Care at Solihull College & University Centre, which is run in partnership with Oxford Brookes University. When starting the Foundation Degree Emma had no clinical skills and although she had previously worked in a nursing home in her teens, she had no prior knowledge of working in a hospital or within a sterile clinical field.
Emma was unable to take a place on a full-time nursing degree due to family commitments but the Foundation Degree offered her skills that would potentially make her a band 4 health care practitioner, allowing Emma to apply for posts within the healthcare community.
Whilst on the foundation degree Emma had the opportunity to complete a 2 year-long placement on a peri-surgical ward in a hospital as well as a short spell in an operating theatre. Emma states “The course itself was incredible. I was taught by an array of multi-disciplinary skilled staff who bought their knowledge with them in their teaching which allowed us to see first-hand how our skills would be applied to our practice when we were out ‘in the field’.”
Initially, due to her lack of experience in the field, Emma felt like a fish out of water and was unsure if she would make it through the course; however, through hard work and determination she was able to complete the course. Emma comments: “The staff on the course are incredibly supportive and despite a few dramas in my personal life I was able to successfully complete the course. I started with very little skill base and I am now able to confidently admit patients into a hospital, insert catheters, safely inject a patient with insulin and that’s just the beginning.”
Emma now feels that she would highly recommend the Foundation Degree to anyone who cannot commit to the demands of a nursing degree as it offers a great opportunity with supportive, trained staff, and excellent facilities including a skills lab set up to mimic a hospital ward to allow students to practice their techniques.
Daniel Barratt – Horticulture
Daniel Barratt from Tile Cross in Birmingham was unemployed and after several years of working as a charity fundraiser, he was unsure what he wanted to do for a career. After signing on at his local Job Centre, Daniel asked his advisor what courses he could do to try and whet his appetite for a new career. This was when he was introduced to the Work-Ready courses run by Solihull College in partnership with Job Centre Plus. Horticulture instantly grabbed his attention and he was soon at the College’s Blossomfield Campus completing the four-week course.
Daniel was enjoying learning about horticulture that much that he sought out advice from College staff to see if he could study a full-time qualification following the four weeks. Due to his dedication and hard work, he was warmly welcomed and proved himself to be a star student.
Daniel successfully completed the Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture and achieved Distinctions for modules throughout the qualification, especially in Plant Identification, which is considered to be the most challenging of modules.
Since leaving the College, Daniel is building his own garden maintenance and service business. He regularly visits the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce through the Job Centre, for help with his business plan. Daniel comments: “I enjoy working outside and not being restricted to an office, I can add expression to my work. I’m really glad that I find it not only therapeutic but fascinating”.
Daniel said the Work-Ready Horticulture course at Solihull College fascinated him and made him realise his passion for horticulture and the outdoors, which he is now turning into a career.
George Drabble – Hospitality & Catering
George Drabble had been claiming Job Seekers Allowance and had little direction in life; however, this was all set to change. In the space of just over a year he has successfully completed the 12-week Prince’s Trust Team programme, started an apprenticeship and has ambitions of running his own pub.
During his time with the Prince’s Trust, George completed work experience with Birmingham City FC which he thoroughly enjoyed. George said that through becoming ‘work-ready’ he learnt to understand the importance of punctuality and responsibility that comes with a job, along with offering good customer service. Also, by spending time with the other students George said he learnt how to work and communicate with people from different backgrounds and abilities.
Following the successful completion of the Prince’s Trust Team programme at the College, George became one of the first apprentices to join Birmingham-based caterer Amadeus – with who Solihull College work with to produce skilled and work-ready workers.
Since starting the hospitality and catering apprenticeship, George has gone from strength to strength both personally and professionally. Although he is mainly based at the NIA, George has gained experience in working at the ICC, NEC and LG Arena, he comments: “I am really enjoying it, I have built up strong relationships with staff across all sites and I like coming in every day – I understand what a good opportunity I have been given”.
George has come on such a long way that Amadeus have taken the decision to train him as a Supervisor – six months earlier than planned. Jane Smith, Business Assistant at Amadeus has seen George work through the apprenticeship, she comments: “George has come so far, he works so hard and gives 100% – he also has a great personality and works with such enthusiasm. George is also very popular among staff and our customers. He is definitely one of the shining stars of the apprentice scheme and already being trained as a supervisor. I am very proud of George and I have no doubt he will be a future Manager for Amadeus”.
George comments: “I am really excited by this and it is an opportunity I will be taking seriously and responsibly. The past year or so has taught me so much and I can see how far I have come”.
Laura Ray – Creative Media
Laura’s interest in media was sparked by many individuals throughout history, including James Cameron, Catherine Cookson, Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, who have then increased her determination to inspire through media itself.
Laura has always has always being very passionate about media even from a young age where she would write short stories and plays and perform them for family members. This is one of the reasons Laura decided to begin her media journey at Solihull College on the Creative Media Extended Diploma, where Laura was able to progress further with software, technology and equipment as well as learning techniques with both filming and editing. Whilst studying Laura has also been able to gain more knowledge through different writing styles and by using the experience of her tutors to guide her as well as the knowledge and experiences of her peers she believes she has opened many doors for her future.
“Solihull College also allowed me to gain an incredible amount of experience that has given me a clearer insight into the industry I am so yearning to enter. I have had the privilege to meet some inspirational people from this industry that have shown and shared some valuable skills that I have surely taken upon myself and will continue using.”
Laura has been involved in a number of projects whilst studying at the College including filming and editing a number of awareness videos for West Midlands police, filming for a Jazz Festival and filming a barbeque event hosted by Solihull BID.
Upon completion of her diploma Laura hopes to continue with her studies at Worcester University to study Professional, Creative Writing and Screenwriting and has a strong devotion towards writing and hopes to one day turn one of her creative pieces into a film.
“Media has enabled me to inspire to express my own ideas visually and effectively. I believe media is the future.”
Kirsty Watts – Motor Vehicle Engineering
Kirsty has always been fascinated by cars and their mechanics; with the pressures of caring for two children while studying at College and holding down a part-time job, Kirsty remains positive and utterly determined with her career ambitions. Kirsty’s is planning to run her own garage, and she is certain that seeing a female mechanic will attract many female customers as she feels women are underrepresented in this industry.
Kirsty currently works in a garage which she enjoys and her colleagues do not treat her any differently; she did encounter obstacles when looking for a job as a mechanic though as many garages wouldn’t take her on because she is a woman. If anything, this has made Kirsty even more determined to fulfil her dream. Kirsty is enjoying studying at the College, especially finding out how to repair cars and understanding how everything works. Following her studies at the College, her family are helping her fund her own garage and she looks forward to succeeding well in an industry she has always loved.
Ella Wainwright – Performing Arts
Ella has always had a great passion for dance and performance and initially pursued her interest as a hobby before realising that she could study the subject of Performing Arts and make a career out of something she felt so passionate about.
Ella enrolled at the College and began to excel straight away, showing a natural ability and talent within Dance and Performance. As well as showing dedication at College Ella is a member of a dance school and teaches dance and gymnastics at her dance school as well a local primary school.
Her hard work was evident throughout her studies as Ella was a distinction star learner as well as a student representative for the course. Ella used her talents to put on a variety of charity performances and also set up the Solihull Arts Dance Company to allow those who attend College and study various subjects to take part in dance in their spare time; because of this Ella was chosen to represent the College in their marketing campaign as a ‘Superlearner’.
Ella is now going to Chichester University to study Musical Theatre and plans to continue with her performance work and hopes to open her own dance/stage school in the future.
Anna Prodromou – Public Services
Anna started at the College in 2011 on an Access to Further Education course after finishing school before then moving on to enrol on a Business Level 1 course, followed by a Business Level 2 qualification.
Anna then decided that business wasn’t the right career path for her and after being recommended by a friend she enrolled on to Public Services Level 3 at Solihull College. Anna found Public Services interesting straight away and continues to work hard now she is in her 2nd year of her qualification.
Chris Hourihan, Anna’s tutor, explains that Anna had a great work ethic and she has worked extremely hard to come from an access course to where she is now and Anna has unlocked a lot of potential whilst being at College. Chris believes it’s important to take students out of their comfort zone in order for them to achieve.
Anna particularly enjoyed the modules of her course which teach the motivations behind criminal behaviour and enjoys that the course has physical modules as well as theory based modules. She has felt supported by her tutors whilst being at College as they have pushed her to achieve well whilst supporting her where she needed it.
Anna says she would recommend the Public Service course to anyone with an interest in that particular field. She is now weighing up her options in terms of University after having offers from various institutions around the country to study towards her degree in Criminology and Psychology. Anna says she is excited to go to University as it will be something different and is a topic which interests her.
In the future Anna hopes to go into the field of forensics.
Zoe Michael – Retail
Zoe knew that she wanted to work in retail before joining her course at Solihull College but she didn’t know which area she would like to work in. After completing a the first year of her level 3 fashion design course Zoe realised that this was not the career she would like to follow. She then enrolled on to the Retail course at Solihull College.
Since being on the retail course, with the help from her tutors, Zoe has being able to focus on where she would like to go and now has more direction. She has now started to plan for her next 2 years and gain work experience in window dressing, something which she has really enjoyed on the course. Zoe was successful in a local competition for the Air Ambulance charity to design a window display for their shop in Solihull and was able to bring her design to life when she was crowned a winner of the competition. Zoe has now also managed to gain work experience to dress the window display of a children’s clothing and gift store in Solihull, Jurnie.
Zoe plans to continue with visual merchandising by gaining as much experience as possible in varying areas before working her way up in the industry. Zoe is now looking to progress to complete a level 4 qualification at the Fashion Academy in London.
Bridie Hudson – HND Applied Biology
Before starting her HND in Applied Biology at Solihull College & University Centre, Bridie was completing her A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Geography. Bridie knew that she wanted to progress on to gain her degree and was determined to achieve a First Class Honours.
Bridie chose to attend the College over a university and felt this benefitted her greatly, she comments “I feel the smaller HND classes compared to the larger groups you get whilst at University helped enormously as this allowed for more one to one tuition and more detailed feedback sessions.”
Bridie enrolled on to the Higher National Diploma in Applied Biology at the College and worked hard throughout as she wanted to gain a job within the Microbiology field as this was her favourite subject area. Bridie enjoyed the practical elements of the HND, particularly the Microbiology laboratory sessions where she was able to work with various bacterial cultures.
Bridie comments “I feel the yearlong laboratory project allowed me to perfect my laboratory skills immensely and prepared me very well for the honours project I completed at University which made up a third of my overall mark.”
Upon completing her HND at the College Bridie moved on to complete her top-up year at Wolverhampton University where she gained her First Class Honours that she had been working so hard towards.
Now Bridie is working in finance as she looks to complete her Masters with possibilities of applying for a PGCE in Biology to become a Biology teacher.
Attal Hanufi – Social Studies
Attal was originally from Afghanistan and moved to the UK in 2001. Since arriving in the UK he had worked as a delivery driver, a taxi driver and as a factory operative but he wanted to further his education and change his career.
Attal found it difficult to pursue dreams of gaining further education as he is a father of 3 children and fitting in an education would be difficult. However, Attal enquired at Solihull College and enrolled on to the Social Studies 2+2 BA (Hons) Degree in 2012. He found that the course fitted round his family life, which was really important. His main ambition was to gain additional academic knowledge and be able to express his viewpoints and he commented “I am glad that Solihull College gave me this golden opportunity to start my education.”
Attal was able to achieve his aspirations and feels he has learnt new skills, developed his understanding and most importantly enhanced in confidence. He believes he is now a completely different person. Attal was able to make use of the teaching materials within the college which he describes as extremely helpful and he also believes that his tutors aided his learning greatly. “All of the teachers were extremely good as well as the materials they used. They gave us the right information and set us on the right path.”
The course included modules such as politics, sociological perspective, social policy and research methods and Attal believes all of these were vital to enable him to understand and reach his goals.
Attal is now completing his final year at Warwick University, majoring in Politics and is really enjoying his education. When he completes his degree Attal is hoping to work in the public sector within government and local councils or to work for a large charitable organisation.
Simon Houston – HND Sport Science (progressed on to top-up at Loughborough Uni, BCFC Performance Analysist)
Before starting at Solihull College Simon was employed as a lifeguard and wanted to progress within his career. Simon felt that his options may have been limited without gaining university level qualifications and knew that Solihull had a good reputation and it seemed like a logical choice as he lived locally.
Simon wasn’t aware of all of the career options available to him as he was aware that the usual ‘teacher’ or ‘personal trainer’ roles were stereotyped when speaking about sport degrees. Simon hoped that a module on the course would inspire him into a career and he had one aim; to be successful in whatever he did.
“The course helped me to explore a broad range of sporting disciplines in an applied setting. I got hands-on experience in sports physiology and most importantly, performance analysis. By exposing us to real life situations it helped, people like me, to decide what areas we really wanted to pursue after college.”
Simon enjoyed the field based testing on the course where he was able to analyse his own golf swings using video analysis. He also enjoyed working with Birmingham City Football club to analyse aspects of their U21 games.
After completing his HND in Sport and Exercise Science Simon secured his place at Loughborough University to complete his top-up degree and was also able to begin working for Birmingham City Football Club as Head of Performance Analysis.
Simon now hopes to oversee the development at Birmingham City, progress the academy in to a world class Academy Performance Analysis structure, continue to develop young players for the Birmingham first team and eventually work in a first team environment. Simon also wishes to continue with his studies as he progresses to post-graduate study to conduct his own research in the field of technical performance indicators within English professional academies.
Simon believes that the College helped him progress with his career. “The college supported me massively throughout the course. All the tutors were excellent and pushed me to reach my full potential. I found the enthusiasm and teaching methods inspiring to the point where a similar enthusiasm was cultivated within our group which really helped with learning. The great relationships I built with the tutors when studying was paramount to the happy memories I have of Solihull College.
The course has definitely enhanced my career prospects and increased my employability. Without this course I would not have been able to achieve a degree. I only wish my top-up year could’ve have been completed at the college when I attended. The HND is great for anyone looking for a career in sport and exercise and I would highly recommend it to others.”
Tyana Douglas – Travel & Tourism
Prior to starting at Solihull College Tyana was studying Health & Social Care but soon realised that this is not where her true passion lay. She had an interest in travel and loved going on holidays and decided to take her passion and make it into a career.
Tyana enrolled on to the Level 3 course in Travel and Tourism and as part of her course was able to source some valuable work experience. Tyana was given a last minute opportunity to attend an interview at local travel agents Holiday Warehouse in Shirley, Solihull. After only having a couple of hours to prepare Tyana attended the interview and out of 3 interviews was the successful candidate chosen.
Tyana then enjoyed her 30 hours work experience as she shadowed a colleague and was able to help with tasks which led to sales within the store. After completing her work experience Tyana impressed so much that the manager of the store has decided that he would like Tyana to work for Holiday Warehouse part-time alongside her studies.
Tyana now plans to complete her studies in the hope that she can one day become an air-hostess.