An IT graduate from Nescot has beaten more than one million people to be named BTEC student of the year in a national competition.
Mehreen Rana, who has just completed a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Network and System Support, was presented with the award at a ceremony in central London on Thursday night.
Mehreen, 18, had entered Pearson’s National BTEC Awards with the support of Nescot’s IT team, and discovered in May she had won the Outstanding BTEC IT student category.
On Thursday she attended a reception at the House of Lords hosted by the government’s education spokeswoman Baroness Margaret Sharp, followed by the awards ceremony at the Royal Horticultural Halls, where she discovered she’d won the overall award.
“I’m so happy, but it was such a surprise and I still can’t believe it,” Mehreen said.
“My parents came up to London with me and they were really proud. We all had a really good day.”
Mehreen is passionate about encouraging more women to join the IT sector and said she’d been inspired by Ada Lovelace, the 19th-century mathematician widely considered to be the world’s first computer programmer.
“At the moment IT is really dominated by men, and I think it would be good for girls and women to show what we can do,” she said.
“I think a lot of girls are put off from studying IT and considering it as a career because they don’t think it’s for them, but if we can change that I think it would benefit everyone.”
2011/12 Government statistics for success rates in all general Further Education colleges show Nescot’s Computing department is ranked third in the country (source: The Data Service).
Almost one million people around the UK are studying for BTEC qualifications this year. Pearson, which owns BTEC awarding body Edexcel, received more than 700 nominations for this year’s awards.
The awards, the third organised by Pearson, were hosted by Radio 1 DJ Matt Edmondson, and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson also spoke at the ceremony.
Together with her certificates and trophies, Mehreen was given an iPad as well as a week of work experience with a well-known company in the IT sector, while Nescot will be given a selection of resources from Pearson.
Mehreen, who lives in Epsom with her parents and 11-year-old sister and eight-year-old brother, is on course to receive an overall Distinction* grade for her BTEC, and will read Computer Science at King’s College London in September.
She has also taken extra qualifications in networking fundamentals, network security, and maths for IT practitioners, done a work placement at Whirlpool and come third in the regional WorldSkills UK competition.
At Nescot she was a class representative for the Student Voice forum, mentored another student and joined the Education Research Initiative project with partner colleges in India.
Pearson said the judges, who included Stephen Exley from The Times Educational Supplement,Helen Warrell from the Financial Times and Chris Skidmore MP, had been impressed by Mehreen’s tenacity, drive and enthusiasm, and her dedication to promoting IT to women.
“We are delighted and very proud that Mehreen has won the Outstanding Student of the Year Award,” said Joseph Hanke, IT Section Leader and Higher Apprenticeship Computing Manager at Nescot.
“She is a hardworking and diligent student who has gone beyond the call of duty to achieve at the highest grade possible and to help other students to learn.
“She is an inspiration to other young women going into IT and we are looking forward to watching her succeed in her future career.”
Rod Bristown, President of Pearson UK, said: “In our modern economy with ever-changing skills needs, we need practitioners who understand the theory and academics who can put things into practice.
“BTEC aims to give students access to that kind of rounded education. More and more universities and employers are telling us that they value this rounded approach.”
He added: “It is vital to support and celebrate the hard work and achievements of outstanding BTEC students and their teachers.
“This year’s judges were impressed by the quality and number of nominations we received, but Mehreen really stood out as a truly exceptional student.”