Alumni Success Stories

Gurshinder Kaur

Overview

 From a challenging beginning, Gurshinder now works as an Analytical placement student for AstraZeneca as well as producing new works of art. Read more of her insights and inspirational words here.


Current success

 “During my gap year, I had applied to pursue an MSci Chemistry degree at the University of Birmingham. During my first year of university, I had a chat with my personal tutor about moving from the ‘MSci Chemistry’ course to the ‘MSci Chemistry with Industrial Placement’ course. The latter comprises of the 3rd degree year spent working in a company, as opposed to studying in university.

  I was advised that choosing the course with the year in industry is challenging and there isn’t a guarantee that you would get a placement for Y3. However, I was also advised that it is a golden opportunity to gain experience and to get an idea of what it means to work in the chemical industry. So, in the past couple of years, I have moved to the ‘MSci Chemistry with Industrial Placement’ course, achieved 1st class grades in both Y1 and Y2, and have recently started my Y3 working as an Analytical placement student at AstraZeneca!”


Fondest memory of Colton Hills

 “To date, my best academic years have been the three years I spent at Colton Hills whilst doing my A levels.

 It wasn’t just because of my good grades and progress in the subjects, but also because of the interactions and activities outside of the studies, that enriched my experience at this school.

 My fondest memory of Colton Hills does not reside in something I experienced in just one moment in time, it’s more like a collection of events. I don’t remember exactly who had said it first, but I recall someone referring to me as a scientist, a mathematician, and an artist. Many of the teachers from the Science and Maths department would show an interest in viewing the work I created in the Art department. This blew my mind because I had always assumed that I had to be one thing or another and that Science and Art couldn’t coexist. It taught me that I didn’t have to sacrifice anything at all, I could be both because both were part of me. I felt seen, I felt appreciated, I felt respected, and I felt valued. Although I am doing a Chemistry degree, I have continued to make Art pieces whenever I can, and I am always thinking about the next painting I want to create.”


How did Colton Hills help you on your journey?

 “I became a part of the Colton Hills community at a very vulnerable and tumultuous stage in my life. I had moved to the UK in 2015, from Italy, and enrolled in the school, with very little and basic knowledge of the English language, into the Year 10 class. I found the first 2 years to be very challenging and stressful because of the nature of my situation, and I would be lying if I said that I never thought of just giving up. But the support and the encouragement that the staff members gave me never failed to make me think: ‘But what if I just gave it my best shot?’.

  I remember staying after-school to catch up on missed work on so many days and that was possible solely because of my teacher's willingness to stay extra hours behind.
I always think of my achievements as a product of all the people that had my back, and many of those seats are filled by staff members that have helped me on my journey at Colton Hills.

  The person I am today and the teenager I was 6 years ago are two completely different people, and that growth could not have happened had I not attended Colton Hills. Whenever I face a tough situation now, I remind myself that I have overcome worse situations in the past.”
 

What advice would you give current Colton Hills students?

 “I would like to give advice as if I am talking to my younger self:

• Be kind to yourself; it’s okay if you are scared and uncertain. Don’t blame or reprimand yourself if you cannot do things that others can do effortlessly. You will grow at your own pace. You won’t be stuck in your situation forever; things will improve. I am one of many living proofs.

• Do not take failure or rejection to heart. It’s disheartening at first, and you are allowed to be disappointed, but try to remember that it’s also an opportunity to learn from the mistakes and/or to seek (better) doors that you never thought of before. I had to take an unexpected gap year and I took a lot out of that learning experience, both academically and personally. As long as you do your best, that’s all that matters! Also, your best is going to look different from someone else’s best, so don’t ever compare your worth against anyone else’s. We are all unique and we can all bring something to the table.

• Don’t overly worry if you don’t know what you want to do or be in the future. If you have a 5/10-year life plan, that’s awesome, keep it up! But if you do not have that, don’t fret, you will be handed opportunities and you’ll eventually find your path. For example, I had decided to pursue Chemistry at university just in my gap year; before that, I never even thought of it as something I would be interested in doing further.

• Be open-minded to learn for the sake of learning. Obviously, you’ll have to revise for exams and to achieve grades (and please do!), but remember that school doesn’t always have to be associated with words such as stress, deadlines, or boring. Explore things for the sake of curiosity.

• Never be afraid to ask for help or to raise questions in class (or even after, if you are not confident yet). During Y10 and Y11, I never did these things because I was overly shy and did not want to attract attention to myself.  During my A-levels, I slowly made a habit of it, and it definitely made a massive difference in how well and how quickly I grasped a concept. Funnily enough, I have to remind myself of this a lot during my placement now, so I’m still learning too.

• Give help, support, and affection unconditionally. You giving these things to others does not take anything away from you, but it can potentially change the life of another for the better (especially true for someone who just recently moved from another country). A little help goes a long way and the good you do to others will come back to you ten-fold.”

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Anisa Suniel Payne

Overview

 Having trained in the Sciences at Colton Hills, Anisa is now embarking on her new role as an Anaesthesia Associate. Read more of her insights and inspirational words here.
 

Current success

 “Since leaving Colton Hills with ABB in my A Level subjects of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, I went on to complete an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Manchester.

  I got a first class with honours in my degree and following a year of job searching and discovery, I embarked on a Postgraduate Diploma in the NHS in the profession of an Anaesthesia Associate. I am nearly at the end of my second degree with my qualified position lined up and I could not be happier that I found a patient facing role in the NHS, in which I’m working with doctors every single day assisting in the delivery of anaesthesia prior to patients’ surgical procedures in theatre.”
 

Fondest memory of Colton Hills

 “I loved attending Colton Hills, it was a pleasant place to learn, there are many fond memories of Colton Hills not only being a place of education but a fun learning environment that could be shared with friends.”
 

How did Colton Hills help you on your journey?

 “I have kept in contact with Ms McClure who had helped me, along with the Science department and educational faculty, to achieve the grades I needed to attend University. In addition, Ms McClure has also supported me through each step of my professional career whether that be providing advice or reference support.”
 

What advice would you give current Colton Hills students?

 “Enjoy the time you have at Colton Hills it will be some of your fondest memories.

 Aim high and give yourself time to discover what it is you enjoy and want to do.

 There are many routes into the same profession, if one does not work out for you there are many other ways to achieve your goals, be persistent and you will do well!”

 

Sukhleen Holait

Overview

Despite self-doubt Sukhleen achieved a degree with first class honours in Applied Biomedical Sciences and now works as a biomedical scientist. Read more of her insights and inspirational words here.
 

Current success

 “Achieved a degree with first class honours in Applied Biomedical Sciences, from the University of Wolverhampton. I was also able to find a job 2 weeks after graduating.”

 

Fondest memory

 “Any given Biology lesson, they were all equally as fun as they were educational.”

 

How did Colton Hills help you on your journey?

 “I changed the degree I was undertaking on results day following the advice of my teacher. I had expressed that I wanted to do Biomedical Sciences but I didn't feel that I was intelligent enough to complete the degree. It was on my teacher's recommendation that I then changed my degree following results day. Now I have been working as a Biomedical Scientist for a year and I am thoroughly enjoying my role.”

 

What advice would you give current students?

 “Always put in as much as effort as possible into whatever it is that you decide to pursue, also don't be afraid to ask for help or to voice your concerns. I have always found guidance and support are always readily available at Colton Hills.!

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Harj Badhen

Overview

 From a love of ICT to becoming an IT Infrastructure Engineer, read more of Harj’s insights and inspirational words here.
 

Current success
 “Since leaving Colton Hills I have gained 10+ years in the IT World. I started in an IT Support role working in many schools, both primary and secondary, across Wolverhampton and Staffordshire.   

 After 4 years in this role, I became a Technical Escalations Engineer in which most of the technical queries would come to myself. I then moved to another company supporting large firms in the Media and Law sectors. Here I was support lead for 2 of the biggest contracts that we had, both of them multi-million-pound companies with 1000+ users.   

 I am currently working as an IT Infrastructure Engineer for a financial services company and training to be a Database Analyst.  Colton Hills allowed me to build this platform by achieving good results in IT.”

 

Fondest memory of Colton Hills

 “My fondest memory of Colton Hills is enjoying my IT Lessons with Miss Sandhu (now Mrs Johal).  This allowed me to build a strong and solid foundation to build my career.”

 

How did Colton Hills help you on your journey?

 “I feel that Colton Hills helped me to understand the journey and route in which I wanted my career to go down. I was interested in IT since a very young age and IT lessons with Miss Sandhu and Mr Kumar really helped me make my decision.”

 

What advice would you give current Colton Hills students?

 “I would advise students to really concentrate and strive, especially in lessons in which they feel will help them down the line, always have fun and talk to your friends but make sure that you get your work done too. 

 You don’t want to be that person 10 years down the line who didn’t get any qualifications and didn’t get the dream job and all of your friends around you are driving nice cars and going on holidays.  Work hard and focus and you will reap the rewards.”

 

Davina Devi

Overview

 From engaging with Careers Fairs to working for Lloyds Bank, read more of Davina’s insights and inspirational words here.
 

Current success

 “When I left Colton Hills, I was working at McDonald’s but due to lockdown had stopped. I was successful in getting myself a job in Lloyd’s Banking Group where I deal with customers day to day.

 I also work with customers from Halifax and Bank of Scotland as these are subsidiaries of Lloyd’s. I help customers with financial difficulty and customers going through life events.

  I find the job very rewarding as I deal with customers from different walks of life and I enjoy helping people.  

 I’m looking to further progress in my career as I aim to be a financial advisor and working in Lloyd’s can help me get to that stage.”

 

Fondest memory of Colton Hills

 “My fondest memory was building relationships with my teachers. When you build that relationship, you find it a lot easier to ask them for support and it makes the experience a lot more enjoyable.”

How did Colton Hills help you on your journey?

 “I had a lot of support from certain members of staff who helped me gain an idea of the different options I had available. I also feel like the whole school experience prepares you for life once you leave.”

 

What advice would you give current Colton Hills students?

 “My advice would be to enjoy the time you have at school, even though a few may hate the idea of going to school, it will be your best years and you have a massive amount of support from the teachers.

 Take advantage of the opportunities they offer, for example the Careers Events, they can help you gain an idea of what you’d like to do.

 Also explore your options early on, don’t wait until they ask and once you have an idea, I know members of staff will be more than happy to support you.”

 

Levi Gethings

Overview

 From feeling supported to a career supporting others as a deputy manager in a residential home for children and young people.   

 Read more of Levi’s insights and inspirational words here.
 

Current success

“Since leaving Colton Hills I went on to study Psychology.

I’m now a deputy Manager in a residential home working with children & young people with emotional & behavioural difficulties.”

 

Fondest memory of Colton Hills

 “I have so many fond memories of Colton Hills, too many to choose from!”

 

How did Colton Hills help you on your journey?

 “Colton Hills helped me a lot and I’m really grateful for the support network I had.

  I had so many positive role models who truly wanted the best outcome for me. Staff at Colton Hills saw potential in me and were consistent in helping me achieve my goals.”
 

What advice would you give current Colton Hills students?

 “When reflecting on my time at Colton Hills, I didn’t really understand the importance of education. Fast forward 7 years, I now understand education sets you up for life and you can never stop learning.
My advice for students at Colton Hills is to continue to push, you can achieve and become anything you desire. No dream is too big!”