Cardiff and Vale College student Shokhan wins Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year Award

30 Mar 2022

Former Cardiff and Vale College Access to Health Sciences learner Shokhan Hasan has won Agored Cymru’s nation-wide Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year Award for her dedication to learning.

Following an eight-year learning journey with CAVC, Shokhan will begin an Adult Nursing Degree in September.

An anaesthetic nurse in Kurdistan, Shokhan moved to Cardiff in 2010 to get married, and could only speak Kurdish. She was determined to continue her studies, so enrolled on a part-time English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at CAVC in 2013.

Shokhan progressed on to the College’s full-time Level 1 ESOL courses, and from there to Level 2 ESOL+ Health and Social Care. She would spend days translating her assignments into Kurdish as she felt she’d be able to answer them better, then she would laboriously translate them into English.

After completing the ESOL+ course, Shokhan progressed on to a Level 2 Access to Further Studies course, gaining GCSEs in English and Maths. Shokhan then progressed to the Access to Health Sciences diploma on a part-time basis.

“I wouldn't be where I am today without all the teachers and staff in CAVC,” Shokhan said. “I still remember all the kind support and encouraging words they gave me whenever I struggled.

“I had lots of extremely difficult times during these years of my studies. Life always has unpredictable events for me.”

In 2018, Shokhan received the devastating news that both her parents and her parents in law had passed away. Her positive and optimistic outlook on life carried Shokhan through her grief and to continue her studies to achieve her ambitions.

Throughout her studies Shokhan juggled looking after two young children, volunteering at a children’s hospital and managing her Access assignment during the toughest two years, following the pandemic. Despite these challenges, Shokhan never missed a deadline or a lesson. Her attitude towards her studies and future career is exemplary.

During her second year of studies on Access, Shokhan became pregnant, and continued with the same grit and determination. She continued to study and only missed two weeks of lessons after the birth of her baby. She coped admirably with an intensive course, alongside home-schooling her two young children during the pandemic and caring for a new-born.

During this time Shokhan was also trying to cope with postnatal depression and still managed to submit excellent assignments on time.

“Studying in a second language is not an easy task, and it can create lots of barriers,” Shokhan said. “Moreover, having small children and lacking family support can complicate life, especially when living abroad.

“However, starting the Access course was one of my best decisions - my goal was to achieve enough distinctions to start university.

“I am pleased to say that despite all of the hardships and challenges I have faced, I achieved thirty-six distinctions and nine merits.”

After taking a well-deserved gap year, Shokhan will embark upon an Adult Nursing Degree at Cardiff University in September.

Cardiff and Vale College Principal Kay Martin said: “Congratulations to Shokhan for winning this prestigious Agored Access to HE Learner of the Year Award. Shokhan has had a remarkable and truly inspirational learning journey with CAVC, facing some real challenges along the way, and it is wonderful to see all of her hard work getting recognised in this way.”