A TEENAGER from Sheffield has been hailed a Student of the Year - at a national award ceremony which rewards young people for their achievements and efforts to inspire others.
Joe Panasiuk, aged 18, keeps up his studies at Sheffield College despite the death of his mother last year. He was also praised for being a role model for his younger sister, who he now cares for following the family’s loss.
Joe, who studies enterprise, was one of only four finalists in the UK-wide Association of Colleges’ Student of the Year Award ceremony.
He was the only finalist from the Yorkshire region, and attended the presentation at the organisation’s conference in Birmingham.
The competition, now in its fifth year, recognises excellence in academic, vocational or extra-curricular areas.
Winners must have also made a significant contribution to college life or their local community, and have inspired others.
Joe won second prize - not only for being an exceptional enterprise student but also for being a young entrepreneur and a teenage volunteer.
He received a prize of £400 and said: “It was a great night. I really enjoyed meeting the other winners.
“It was a big surprise to win second place. I feel really fortunate.”
Sheffield College’s chief executive Heather MacDonald said: “Joe is a remarkably determined young man, and an outstanding example of that.
“I am proud of him and proud of our staff who have encouraged him to achieve success.
“There are so many students who make remarkable progress, and really come into their own, when they move into the further education sector.”
Joe completed an intensive one-year advanced BTEC Diploma course in enterprise and entrepreneurship at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy at Sheffield College, the first of its kind to launch in Yorkshire and the Humber when it opened in September 2010.
He is one of the first students to graduate from the course.
Joe managed his studies despite the death of his mother last year, which resulted in him leaving school without finishing his A-levels.
But he bounced back at college, obtaining distinctions in his BTEC and meeting all his deadlines.
At college Joe also found time to develop a quarterly tabloid publication in partnership with Kaimera Creative called Stamped, which tapped into student talent in Sheffield and connected it with local businesses.
He is also a founder member of the BiG Young Entrepreneurs Club, which offers support, guidance and opportunities to Sheffield’s teenage business talent.
Joe is now taking a foundation degree in business management and enterprise.