A student who "had to start from square one" after moving to the UK has said she hopes winning an award "inspires girls from similar backgrounds".
After arriving from Pakistan in 2017, Manchester's Esha Mumtaz had to pass her GCSEs before taking a diploma and working in a care home and a hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her work has seen her honoured in the Association of Colleges' annual awards.
She said she wanted other teenagers to "see they are capable of great things". Naming her Young Student of the Year, the organisation which represents further education institutions said the Stockport College student's "outstanding commitment" made her a worthy winner.
"Esha won the award for her dedication and professionalism during the height of Covid-19 last year," a spokeswoman said. "She travelled two hours by bus to voluntarily work with
Alzheimer's and dementia patients at Trafford General Hospital and was offered paid employment at a care home after impressing in her placement." She added that Ms Mumtaz had to overcome "shyness" after arriving from Pakistan and had made a "significant contribution" to her college and community in a very short space of time, which showed "what can be achieved by students entering a new country and culture from overseas".
The student, who lives in Levenshulme, said on arriving in the UK, she found her school qualifications were not recognised, so has to take her GCSEs before starting a health and social care diploma. She said she had "come from a background where girls do not get many opportunities to study. I am very lucky; my college and my parents are very supportive.
"By winning this award, I want to inspire girls out there, especially the ones that come from a similar place, that you are capable of great things." A Stockport College spokeswoman said since enrolling, Ms Mumtaz had overcome "cultural and language barriers" to make "remarkable progression, in confidence as well as ability".
She said she had been a student ambassador, deputy leader of the equalities council and was now a student governor, who was also setting up a website to connect people with mental health issues with professionals.