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Valentine shines in British Council's International Student Awards 2011

Kenyan student Valentine Nkoyo, who is studying BA Business Management at York St John University, has been named the Yorkshire and Humber International Student of the Year 2011 in a prestigious competition organised by British Council. 

The 27 year old won the title having shared her inspirational story about life as a student in the UK and will now prepare to challenge for the title of overall International Student of the Year 2011. Valentine is one of 12 regional winners who will gather in London on 13 April 2011 to meet a final judging panel, before going on to have their extraordinary achievements honoured in a national awards ceremony.

Valentine was one of more than 1,200 students, from 118 countries to enter the ninth annual International Student Awards – a major initiative from the British Council that shines the spotlight on international students and their contributions to life in the UK. To enter, each student was asked to write a personal ‘letter home’, detailing the extra-curricular achievements, including volunteering and involvement in community projects, that illustrate how they are making the most of their time in the UK.

A judging panel met last month to discuss the merits of short-listed entries from the region. Valentine’s letter was judged to be Yorkshire and Humber’s most impressive and she will receive a £1,000 prize. The ultimate winner of the International Student of the Year 2011 title will receive a £2,000 prize at the competition final, to be held in London next month.

Valentine has suffered an ongoing fight for education all of her life. In her homeland of rural Maasailand, Kenya, Valentine’s community does not value the right for girls to have an education. So when her father struggled to pay for Valentine’s school fees, she was often sent home. Her fortunes changed though when she was offered a place at Kabarak University in Nakuru in the Rift Valley. A chance encounter with senior York St John teaching staff at an academic conference at Kabarak University presented her with the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to come to York St John.

She came to England in January 2009 to undertake a semester of creative writing and film-making at York St John and in September 2009, she won the University’s Inspire International Scholarship to complete her Business degree in England. Determined to help other students have a right to an education, Valentine volunteers with York St John University’s Alumni Development office alongside her studies. In this role she has helped raise scholarship funds, co-hosted events, acted as an ambassador at VIP events, given seminars at local schools and recruited fellow students to also volunteer.

Valentine said:

“I am delighted to be recognised in this way. The award will not only be felt in the Yorkshire and Humber region, but back home with my family, friends and in my village Eor-Enkitok. I would like to thank all my sponsors who have consistently supported me in my educational journey and for always believing in me.”

Brett Arnall, Alumni Development Manager said:

“In her two years with York St John she has excelled in every area and given so much back to the University. She has not just received outstanding marks for her work but supports other students through her roles as a Student Ambassador and Student Warden.”

He added: “Last year Valentine was awarded the Adult Learner of the Year for the Yorkshire and Humber region, and so receiving this new accolade demonstrates her continued journey and recognises the incredible impact she has made in York.”

Martin Davidson Chief Executive of the British Council, said the letters home written by the entrants were both poignant and inspiring:

“The students have immersed themselves in life in the UK and are making a huge contribution not just to their campuses but to the wider community. The British Council is delighted to recognise their considerable achievements.”

For further information please contact Amy Hall, PR & Communications Officer on T: 01904 876466 or E: a.hall@yorksj.ac.uk


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