Jess Young, 17 from Rugby, lost her mum suddenly to cancer a few months before starting her A-Level studies at the college – but has channelled her grief into charity and business.
Jess’s mum died at The Myton Hospice in Coventry and alongside her family, she has raised more than £11,000 for the charity.
She bought a vinyl machine with money received from her mum and set up her own business, JJ Creations - which is now selling personalised products across the UK and recently received its first order from the USA.
Jess has completed the first-year of her A-Levels in psychology, criminology and sociology at Rugby College, which is part of college group WCG, and received the highest prize available at the college.
Jess said: “I’m blown away and overwhelmed to have won the award. I’m really happy and proud of myself after everything that has happened in the last year.
“I came to Rugby College because I liked the idea of doing criminology. I feel really at home here now.
“It was difficult to balance my grief and studies but the college were a great help. They offered me counselling and I’ve always felt like I had someone to talk to here.
“We’re continuing to fundraise for The Myton Hospice and it’s amazing to have been able to raise thousands of pounds for the hospice.
“I didn’t want to just spend the money from my mum on a new pair of shoes, laptop or a phone. I bought a machine and decided to use that machine to personalise products with vinyl.
“I have one year of A-Levels left and then I’m planning to go to university to study either nursing or midwifery.”
College director Simon Philpott said: “Jess has a truly inspirational story and has excelled in her first year with us in the face of adversity. We look forward to welcoming her back for the second year of her studies.”