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Stafford College adult learner wins prestigious Access to Higher Education Award


Stafford College Access to HE Diploma (Health Professionals) learner Danielle Hillifer from Walsall, has scooped an 'Outstanding Commitment to Study' award in the Brian May Access to Higher Education Learner Awards 2023.

The awards hosted by the Open College Network West Midlands, took place on 25 May 2023 at Aston Villa Football Club and celebrated the outstanding achievements of students studying towards an Access to Higher Education Diploma. During the ceremony, Danielle was presented with a prize of £600 to help her with university studies.

Access to HE Diploma (Health Professionals) adult learner, Danielle was nominated for a commitment award after showing 100% commitment to her studies since joining the course in September 2022 whilst facing significant health issues.

Only a few weeks into her studies, Danielle discovered that she had an underlying cardiac problem, and having undergone further tests, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Danielle tackled an emotional and challenging time with resilience, and even whilst receiving daily radiotherapy, she insisted on coming into college almost every day. Throughout this challenging time and overcoming many obstacles, Danielle produced Distinction-level assignments and continued to support her peers with their studies.

Danielle now has university firmly in her sights and is hoping to study paramedic science at Staffordshire University this September with career ambitions to qualify as a paramedic.

On studying the Access to HE Diploma Danielle said; “After having my three children and spending time with my family, I decided to apply for the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health Professionals) so that I could concentrate on my goal to qualify as a paramedic. Working for the NHS in the past gave me a deep desire to provide care for people with chronic or acute conditions, and I was inspired to become a paramedic while working in the Accident and Emergency.

During my diagnosis and throughout my treatment, I have maintained a positive outlook and attended college whenever possible. I am grateful that this course has provided me with a positive focus and allowed me to maintain as much stability as possible."

Lisa Westmorland, Curriculum Leader for Access to Higher Education at Stafford College who nominated Danielle said: “Danielle is an exceptional student who has shown incredible commitment and is so inspiring to us all. Her resilience and positivity really shine through and we are delighted to have been part of Danielle's journey this year. We know she will be an exceptional paramedic."

Find out more about our Access to HE Diplomas here.