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Ellen goes Higher than ever dreamed possible

Ellen AoC

Ellen Stultiens, aged 23, is in the Association of Colleges (AoC) Higher Education Student of the Year finals.

Ellen was a truly remarkable student, overcoming multiple complex mental health conditions and years of school problems to become the highest achiever in a cohort and passionate about giving back to the community both locally and nationally.

Battling with the physical pain of fibromyalgia as well as chronic fatigue, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, neurodiversity and having to care for an unwell father, Ellen joined The Bedford College Group HNC Art and Design course with a backlog of negative education experiences. Ellen had a devastating track record of not being supported at school and personal circumstances of never being understood.

At the start of the course at The Bedford College Group, Ellen, was unsure how to overcome this, but through courage and access to the extensive support offered by the College, alongside sheer determination, Ellen has been transformed and flourished in a way never once believed was possible.

Bedford College
Ellen AoC

They achieved Distinction for both their HNC and HND courses and is now studying Fine Art at Falmouth University.

The high-quality of their work is inspirational and in fact lecturer, Richard Lloyd said:

“Over the years I have taught some really good students who have got into some great universities and gone on to do amazing things – but Ellen is probably one of the best students I’ve ever seen.”

In addition to their outstanding academic achievements, Ellen has made a significant contribution to the College and wider community through their involvement with the Student Commission on Racial Justice. Founded by Leaders Unlocked, (a social enterprise working across education, policing, health and justice to shape future decision-making), the Student Commission on Racial Justice is a group of 40 students from colleges across the UK.

Ellen was also part of a virtual showcase to people working in the four sectors (policing and criminal justice system; education; health and employment), the MP of Bedford and senior leadership and diversity managers from all of the colleges that worked with the scheme.

Ellen’s work as an artist often has a focus on social issues. The impact of Ellen’s work has rippled out and reached people through her course, department, College, Group and wider community.

Ellen inspired other students on the Art & Design HND to take part in an exhibition in Bedford town centre called: ‘Art and sustainability: does the societal benefit of creating art account for its materialistic impact?’

Ellen was the driving force for organising and curating the exhibition. It provided an opportunity for all of the HNC students to produce work that was on display to the local community.

Ellen said:

“I am very proud of the space I provided for myself and the other students at my College.

“I never imagined I would have been able to achieve what I have today, but it is through my determination and perseverance that I have done so. I will not stop here. I will not back down on my mission to break through these societal barriers, not just for myself, but for every person going through their own struggles.”

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