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Students enjoy an 'out of this world' experience, as they rub shoulders with the UK's next astronaut at annual student awards event

High-flying students from New City College enjoyed an evening basking in the limelight, when they took centre stage at the College's annual Student Achievement Awards evening, held this year at the Grange City Hotel, next to the Tower of London on Wednesday 27 September.

Social entrepreneur, poet, campaigner and future astronaut Hussain Manawer, presented the awards and was this years' special guest at the event.

Hussain, born in Ilford, London, is recognised by the elite few who became Olympic torchbearers in the London 2012 Olympics. He is known through his online channel, Hussain's House, where he interviews a host of influential people. Hussain has also been active in raising thousands of pounds for charity by sleeping rough on London's streets to raise money for the homeless, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and taking survival packs for refugees. He will become the UK's first British born Muslim to travel into space, an extraordinary achievement.

Group Principal and CEO Gerry McDonald, Tower Hamlets campus Borough Principal Alison Arnaud and Hackney Community campus Borough Principal Lois Fowler, joined Hussain in presenting the awards.

In total there were 26 awards spanning the College's entire range of faculties. Highlights from the evening included:

Hamza Mahmood: Hamza won the business studies student of the year award and was class representative, and recognised by his teachers as he showed dedication and hard work, with an excellent attendance record of 100%. Hamza did not allow his special needs statement be a hindrance to his studies, and was always supportive of his peers, inspiring a number of his classmates to excel in their course work.

Aifa Haque: Aifa won the award for Information technology student of the year. Aifa's tutors saw her as an extremely diligent and conscientious student, with excellent communication and analytical skills. She was very keen to help other students, reflected in her out of class pursuits as an IT services ambassador and a student ambassador, in which she worked as a team leader. Aifa has now progressed to studying at UCL, one of the world's top 20 super elite universities.

Nahid Ahmed: Nahid won the award for the health and social care student of the year. Originally from Bangladesh, Nahid began studying on the FEYA programme to improve his English skills, before moving onto health and social care level 1. His tutors praised him on completing all his assignments to a very high standard, long before his deadlines. He also undertook work placement, which is not required to complete the course, and gained positive feedback from his placement employer.

Darren Cole: Darren won the award for English and Communications student of the year. Darren left school without any qualifications and then experienced a period of poor health, which made him withdraw from society. Arriving at college was a huge step for Darren, but he quickly overcame his initial reservations and low self-esteem to becoming the central character in his class and his confidence grew as he discovered his own talents and developed his ability to help others.

Awal Khan: Awal won the award for 14-16 student of the year. He came to the UK two years ago from Afghanistan, travelling by himself aged 14 with no knowledge of English and had never been to school or college. However, Awal made a tremendous breakthrough with his spoken English and literacy skills. Awal always has a smile on his face, is ready to help others, is enthusiastic and is a pleasure to teach. His tutors say he is a good role model to all.

Ehsan Jebari: Ehsan won the award for the New City College corporation adult learner of the year. Ehsan arrived at the college with only two GCSE's but is now studying a mathematics degree at Queen Mary University, one of the UK"s top universities. This is a great achievement as Ehsan overcame personal challenges to focus on her dream of getting to university.

The awards also attracted major international sponsors from companies including the Canary Wharf Group, Clifford Chance and Hermes Investment Management.

Guests were also entertained by a group of the college's performing arts students, who delivered a selection of foot-stamping and high-beat song and dance routines.

Hussain Manawer said:

"I'm going to be the first UK born, Muslim man in space, which is pretty amazing considering I don't come from an academic background. What I would like you all to take away from tonight is if there is something you want to achieve, go and achieve it. The only person standing in your way is yourself."

Gerry McDonald, Group Principal and CEO said:

:We have seen and heard this evening about the inspiring personal journeys achieved by many of our students, which once again shows the value of education to people's lives. Our students should rightly be very proud of their accomplishments and enjoy being in the spotlight. Their success demonstrates the value and importance of further education to our community."

Students enjoy an 'out of this world' experience, as they rub shoulders with the UK's next astronaut at annual student awards event