Northern College student triumphs over adversity

The achievements of Roxanne, an exceptional and inspiring student from Northern College in Barnsley, was celebrated at the Association of Colleges’ Adult Student of the Year awards. 

As a single Mother who had experienced homelessness and domestic violence, Roxanne visited Northern College in 2016 to try and break the cycle of adversity in her life.  She soon found that nobody judged her and she was accepted, which gave her renewed confidence which soon led the way to new academic success. 

After completing a part-time Level 2 Diploma in the first year she successfully went on to pass a Level 3 Access to Higher Education Diploma the year after.  Alongside these qualifications Roxanne also gained her Functional Skills in both English and Maths, all which would have seemed beyond impossible only a few years previously.

Since leaving Northern College in 2019, Roxanne has been offered an apprenticeship and is going on to study at university.

Roxanne said: “I’m a bit overwhelmed, I still can’t believe it. I never imagined I’d be in this position. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this if it wasn’t for the staff, support and the Children’s Centre at Northern College. It is an amazing place that has helped me turn my life around.”

Yultan Mellor, Principal and Chief Executive of Northern College said: “Staff at the college are extremely proud of what Roxanne has achieved.  We are certain that with her dedication and enthusiasm for learning she will continue to be successful in the future and realise her full potential.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Each year the level of applications is extremely high, and it goes to show the fantastic work that students are doing in colleges as well as the lengths colleges go to support their students.  Roxanne has done amazingly well to finish second and she should rightly be proud of her achievements.”

The awards were announced on Tuesday 19 November at the Association of Colleges’ Annual Conference, showcasing some of the ways that colleges are transforming the lives of more than two million people across England and how vital colleges are to the future of the British economy in the 21st century.

Roxanne did fantastically well, narrowly missing out on first place, and her story will help to inspire others who may not have had the same opportunities to realise their own potential at Northern College in the future.

Find out how you can change your life at Northern College – call 01226 776000 or email