The exceptional achievements of a Newcastle College student have been celebrated this week as Pearson named Tahreema Khatun BTEC Art and Design Learner of the Year 2022.
Now in its 12th year, the BTEC Awards recognise and celebrate the hard work and dedication of BTEC learners, educators, and providers from all around the globe.
20-year-old Tahreema’s inspiring achievements stood out among an international field of candidates and wowed the judges, who felt her passion and talent for photography, combined with the boundless enthusiasm she showed in class every day, put her head and shoulders above the other candidates. Tahreema has achieved remarkable amounts during the completion of her course – including being a photographer for the Great North Run – made all the more inspiring by the fact that not only was she born profoundly deaf, but English is her second language. Towards the end of her time at the college she even started teaching her classmates British Sign Language!
Catherine Shield, the tutor who nominated Tahreema for the award, commented: “Tahreema has overcome so many barriers and challenges to succeed in her BTEC. She is not only deaf but as a Muslim girl she is also very passionate about advocating for Muslim girls and women, and for young deaf people too. She is a real example of being able to do whatever it is that you want to do, and not letting anything hold you back.
“When Tahreema first joined my class, she was very quiet and separate from her classmates, which is often the case when communicating through a translator. With a little bit of support and encouragement over the past year she has really integrated with her classmates and has even taught them how to sign. She constantly smiled during her second year which wasn’t something we seen a lot of before.”
“This has really boosted her confidence and since then she’s had a real drive to succeed, completing a placement in a photography studio which she received amazing feedback for. She is always out working or in the studio and some of the work she has produced is outstanding. Seeing her grow and develop as a photographer and a young person has been wonderful to see and I’m thrilled she’s been recognised with this award, we’re all so proud of her.”
Tahreema, who has now completed her studies at Newcastle College has big ambitions for her photography career and says her new-found confidence is something she gained through the support she received during her time at college.
She said: “I can’t believe I’ve won this award. Growing up I always felt isolated trying to fit into the hearing world and pretending I understood what was happening around me. I was introduced to BSL sign language at high school. It was at this time I realised I could communicate in a different way. As I grew older I realised there were no deaf Muslim success stories around me. This made me determined to become a role model for other minority groups. Since joining college and attending the BTEC photography course, I have developed into a strong and confident woman. This award has inspired me to achieve my dreams in the future. Hopefully my learner journey will help young children to overcome any barriers, and to strive to do the best they can.
“The support I’ve received at Newcastle College has been so helpful. I looked at different colleges but the support they offered didn’t compare to Newcastle College. I’ve enjoyed it here and it was definitely the right place for me.”
Newcastle College Principal Scott Bullock added: “We're all hugely proud of Tahreema and what she has achieved during here time here. It’s so inspiring to see how hard she has worked and with that drive and determination I have no doubt she has a very successful career in front of her. One of our priorities at Newcastle College is making sure that education is inclusive and accessible for everyone, and we strive to provide all of the support our learners need to succeed. Tahreema is a wonderful example of the difference this support can make to the lives of young people.”