A fashion degree student at Coleg Sir Gâr has won an Inspire adult learner’s progression award which recognises the achievements of exceptional individuals who have overcome significant challenges in their lives.
Before returning to education, Nina Miklaszewicz had faced many challenges, including bringing up five children on her own, living in a women’s refuge and working three jobs to try and make ends meet.
In celebration of her achievements, in June this year, Nina Miklaszewicz was invited to a prestigious awards ceremony in Cardiff where she received the Wales-wide award at the largest celebration of adult learning in Europe.
Despite being a bright pupil, Nina left school at 16 due to her low attendance, as she was caring for a family member.
Nominated for the Inspire Progression Award by Steve Kelshaw, director of learner support at Coleg Sir Gâr, he said: “Nina’s journey is incredible; she is the embodiment of this award as an adult learner who has progressed against the odds.”
Nina’s step back into education happened by chance when she accompanied a friend in a wheelchair to an open evening at Coleg Sir Gâr. She spoke to a tutor who recognised her potential, which led to a successful course application. “When you are told you can do something it’s like magic dust to someone who feels worthless,” said Nina Miklaszewicz.
The first in her family to go to university, Nina used her new qualification to progress to a fashion degree. “It’s not just me that deserves a chance,” she said. “People who have nothing are the ones who will work hard, they have fire in their belly and have something to prove. They only need a hand on to the ladder and they will run up it.”
Previously describing herself as ‘written off’, Nina is now more determined than ever. “I am determined that my children and grandchildren get an education and we can break this cycle of poverty and no ambition,” she said. “It has taken me 40 years to get here and I’m not going to give up now.”
Debbie Gill, who recognised her potential during her first visit to the college, said: “When I met Nina it was her passion, enthusiasm and drive to succeed that inspired me to support her.
“It’s wonderful to see that her motivation and drive to further her own education is having such a positive influence on her children's education.”
Pic: Nina Miklaszewicz, a Coleg Sir Gâr fashion degree student who won the Wales-wide Inspire Adult Learner’s Progression award