Fathima, originally from Sri Lanka, recently won an SQA Star award for Lifelong Learning Candidate of the Year. Last week she popped by the office to share her good news. Fathima and her husband were seeking asylum when she enrolled at Glasgow Clyde College on a Practical Cookery course in August 2018. She followed this with a Professional Cookery Skills course in 2019.

Image: SQA

“When I started college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went totally blank. Glasgow Clyde College pointed me in the right direction. And they nominated me for this SQA star award. When I got to the final 3, I was so happy. It was such an achievement. The award is our first award in this country, it is an unforgettable feeling. They asked us to come to the award ceremony, and I was crowned the winner.

“We just started our new life here. I didn’t study this back home, I self-taught myself once I was here. A flowchart which I created when researching stocks and sauces in class is now used as part of the course material – it was great to receive such recognition of my work. Once I complete my studies I am looking towards starting a professional job or opening a business.

“Glasgow Clyde College also asked me to come and teach once a week. I can learn how to develop my business, and at the same time develop myself and other members of the community.

“I enjoy cooking for and feeding people, it makes me happy.”

“I applied for my mum to get a visa to see me receive my award but it was refused, I have no idea why. I think because she is old they think that she will not leave again afterwards. It was disappointing. I don’t have my mother to share my successes with. They printed off a place-card for her at the award ceremony, it was really clear that she was missing. I would have enjoyed sharing that moment with her.

“Glasgow Clyde College is like my mother’s home to me.”

“At the beginning, I knew nothing and was under pressure with my kids and everything we were going through. At college, I felt like I was in my comfort zone. The lecturers were so helpful, they focus properly on every student, I’m very happy with my experience there. I would be proud to do anything I can do for them in return.”

Author: Chris Afuakwah