AN ‘INCREDIBLE’ and ‘resilient’ bereaved teenager who has raised thousands for charity and set up her own small business has been named Student of the Year at Rugby College.
Jess Young, 17, from Rugby, lost her mum suddenly to cancer a few months prior to starting her A-Level studies at the college – but has channelled her grief into charity and business.
Jess and her family have since raised over £11,000 for The Myton Hospices, the charity which looked after her mum at the end of her life.
And, using money received from her mum, she bought a vinyl machine and set up her own business, JJ Creations – which is now selling personalised products across the UK and recently received its first order from the USA.
Jess has completed the first-year of her A-Levels in psychology, criminology and sociology, and received the highest prize available at the college.
She said: “I’m blown away and overwhelmed to have won the award. I’m really happy and proud of myself after everything that has happened in the last year.
“I came to Rugby College because I liked the idea of doing criminology. I feel really at home here now.
“It was difficult to balance my grief and studies but the college were a great help. They offered me counselling and I’ve always felt like I had someone to talk to here.
“We’re continuing to fundraise for The Myton Hospice and it’s amazing to have been able to raise thousands of pounds for the hospice.
“I didn’t want to just spend the money from my mum on a new pair of shoes, laptop or a phone. I bought a machine and decided to use that machine to personalise products with vinyl.
“I have one year of A-Levels left and then I’m planning to go to university to study either nursing or midwifery.”
Head of Department James Stacey said: “Jess is an incredible student who has overcome tough times by channelling her energy into positivity and drive.
“She has been an impeccable student who goes above and beyond in class and always strives for the best. Her continued dedication has been clear to see by all, reflected in their quality of work which has been really top class. Jess is just brilliant and exceptional in terms of resilience.”
A total of 50 awards were presented at the college’s annual awards evening, where more than 150 staff, students, parents and guardians were able to celebrate students’ achievements in person for the first time in three years.
Simon Philpott, College Director of Rugby College, said: “It was my enormous pleasure to welcome everyone to the college for the first in-person student awards we have been able to hold since before the pandemic.
“There was a wonderful celebratory atmosphere in the room on the evening and it was a great opportunity to share the successes of students across the college.
“Jess has a truly inspirational story and has excelled in her first year with us in the face of adversity. We look forward to welcoming her back for the second year of her studies.”