University of East London graduate Allison Vitalis has been chosen as one of three finalists for a top prize at the prestigious British Education Awards (BEA).
Vitalis’s selection in the ‘Degree Category (England Zone 2)’ recognises her work as a curriculum ambassador with the University’s widening participation team and her work with a charity helping victims of knife crime.
Winners will be announced at a special ceremony in Manchester on January 30.
She said: “I am delighted to have been selected as one of the top three finalists in the British Education Awards. It is a great honour and I am excited about attending the awards ceremony in Manchester.
PASSIONATE ABOUT HELPING YOUTH
“This, on top of getting a first-class degree at the University of East London last year and winning a NEON education award, is really fantastic, especially after all the tough times I have been through trying to achieve my goals and bring up a family.”
Vitalis, 44, from Hackney, east London, achieved a first-class honours degree in clinical and community psychology in November.
She also won the ‘Student of the Year’ prize at the 2019 National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) Awards.
Vitalis was a mature student at university while also raising Brandon, 19, and Ariètte, 8, as a single mother.
Despite a busy life involving family, work and studies, Vitalis still managed to find time to get involved in a number of volunteer projects.
Since earning her degree, she has stepped up her voluntary work helping victims of knife crime. She is passionate about wanting to help young people at risk and families who have been affected by crime.
She first became interested in helping victims of knife crime in 2016 while working part-time with the Hackney Playstreet organisation. The organisation’s work includes arranging for streets to be closed off at times so young people can freely play.
The successful graduate’s charity work includes being a volunteer project director of The Charlie Burns Foundation and The Shaquan Sammy-Plummer Foundation.
The British Education Awards recognise the outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements of students – and it is the only education event in the UK that celebrates individual success on a national platform.
A UEL spokesperson said: “The BEA winners are Ambassadors for British education. In shining a light on these success stories, the BEA promotes the merits of a British education on both a national and international stage. These celebrated scholars represent the best that can be achieved through dedication and hard work, whether at school, college, university or vocational level.”
Vitalis and other nominees in her category will be evaluated on criteria including grades, extracurricular activities, community awareness and entrepreneurship.
Speaking about why she is so passionate about the issue of knife crime she said: “my nephew Ramone, who is now 25, got stabbed. That made me even more convinced that something had to be done. Fortunately, he has recovered.
“I hope that the work I am doing is helping save lives and I hope that I have helped provide comfort to parents and families who have lost children through this kind of crime.”