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Daniel overcomes deafness to reach national finals for Student of the Year 

Daniel McAllister, finalist for Student of the Year.

Daniel McAllister is in the Association of Colleges (AoC) Adult Student (19+) of the Year finals.

Daniel, 47, who lives in Ampthill, Beds, was an extraordinary student who consistently exceeded expectations and went above and beyond during the past five years that he studied at Bedford College, Part of The Bedford College Group.

Not only does he work full-time and is a busy father, but he is also deaf and communicates in class via a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter who translates spoken English into BSL.

Being deaf and using a BSL interpreter live in lessons meant Daniel had to work twice as hard as any other student. What’s more, the highly technical and specialised nature of the engineering discipline, created additional challenges in terms of certain signs simply not existing in BSL.

What makes Daniel even more outstanding is that he was one of the top performers on the HND Electrical & Electronic Engineering course, achieving excellent grades across the board, including six A+ grades and five A grades.


Runner up certificate for Daniel McAllister, Student of the Year Awards.
Daniel McAllister, finalist for Student of the Year.

Sharing the journey

On top of working full-time and achieving excellent grades on his course, Daniel also finds time to be the Diversity and Inclusion Champion for Network Rail and the Quadrant: MK Mental Wellbeing Champion.

Daniel said:

“There is no doubt that the diversity and inclusion role has given me a greater understanding and appreciation of other people, their backgrounds, culture, and personal experiences – it’s been a great way to broaden my mind. As my role has developed, I have also been able to teach basic BSL and Deaf Awareness to those who are interested.” 

Through his additional diversity and inclusion responsibilities, Daniel has also visited schools and attended national exhibitions such as The Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, which is the UK’s biggest STEM fair for young people aged 11-14. Daniel’s main objective was to inspire other deaf children by talking to them about his experiences and career journey to become a successful Engineer.

Head of Engineering at Bedford College, Steven Croft, said:

“Daniel really is an inspirational character who is always setting a great example for his classmates. He was an active participant in class, sharing his experiences – both his life experience and his engineering work too. Whenever we had discussions he was able to relate how the topic applied to the real world of work, and ask technical questions. He also participated in recruitment efforts for the College, sharing his personal experiences of the course with prospective students.” 

John Paintin, a Senior Trainer at The Bedford College Group commented:

“I’ve worked at the College for many years and I have to say that the quality of Daniel’s work was incredible. He produced some excellent presentations and posters that I’m definitely going to use in future classes to inspire students and give them examples of the sort of level of work they could be achieving.”

Oliver Nenadovic, Senior Engineer at Network Rail and Daniel’s line manager said:

“There’s no doubt that Daniel has been a huge inspiration to the team here at Network Rail. Returning to learning as a mature student and working full-time with a family is a huge commitment and is challenging for anyone but Daniel also had to overcome communication barriers within a highly specialist and technical sector that was new to him.”

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