Adult learners from Swansea University’s Department of Adult Continuing Education (DACE) have scooped two honours in this year’s Swansea Learner Awards 2014.

BA Humanities Degree student Stepheni Kays, aged 40, from Ravenhill, was named as winner of the ‘Higher Education Learner of the Year’.

An all-female group who studying the BA Humanities Degree Preparation Programme in Clase, some of which progressed onto the Part-time Humanities Degree, was named as winners of the ‘Community Group Learning’ category.

The Swansea Learning Festival Group held their Learner and Tutor Awards at Swansea’s Grand Theatre on Tuesday, 17 June. The event was an opportunity for learners and tutors to gain recognition for their efforts and demonstrate their commitment to learning. The event was an opportunity for learners and tutors to gain recognition for their efforts and demonstrate their commitment to learning.

Stepheni moved to Wales in November 2008 after leaving her native home country under difficult circumstances, leaving her children and husband behind. Upon arriving in Swansea, Stepheni was determined to make most of the opportunities available in a new country, and embarked on her studies.

Stepheni began her studies in the Action Resource Centre (ARC) in Blaenymaes, Swansea, where she chose to study a Foundation Certificate in Humanities. Her studies developed her skills, knowledge and gave her an understanding of different subjects, as well as increasing her confidence. Stepheni excelled on the course and successfully gained a distinction for her studies.

After completing the programme, Stepheni was determined to take her studies to the next level, and decided to enrol on DACE’s Part-time BA Humanities Degree and has since studied subjects such as Sociology, History and Psychology in community venues at Townhill and Clydach, as well as at Swansea University Singleton Campus.  

Vanessa Thomas, Community Development Officer for DACE, said: “Stepheni is an inspirational and extremely capable student who is on track to achieving a very good degree classification. We are very privileged to have Stepheni as a student with DACE.”

Alongside her studies, Stephanie works part-time at Boots and is a mother of five children. Stepheni’s positive attitude has permeated through to her family, as her eldest child is currently studying for a law degree, and another will begin an acting degree in September. Since moving to Wales with their children, Stepheni’s husband had always wanted to study but work had always been a priority after beginning a new life in a new country; he is now studying on DACE’s BA Degree Preparation in Humanities Programme.

Stepheni, said “DACE staff are very supportive and make learning very interesting. Learning has helped me evolve and gain the belief that I am able to achieve so much more, contribute to society and has also helped me to find my vocation and career path. I am determined to continue with my learning and achieve the highest qualification possible. I endeavour to work on an international scale to help the vulnerable and under-privileged. If with my background I can do it, then anyone can!”.

Stepheni has also received a highly commended Higher Education Learner Award from NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education) Cymru and has also been invited to act as a NIACE Adult Learner Ambassador. 

DACE Part-time Degree student Hannah Collins, and Part-time Humanities Degree tutors Carole Butler and Dr Rhian Worth were nominated by DACE staff for the NIACE Cymru Learner and Tutor Awards and received certificates of achievement.

Professor Colin Trotman, Director of DACE at Swansea University, said: “I am delighted that DACE adult students and tutors have received recognition for their studies and commitment to teaching in a community based-setting. Their stories are inspirational and they are to be congratulated on gaining these esteemed awards. We wish them well for the future”.