Jay Kelly took home the Ascential Educational Achiever Award after attending The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense London and South East Awards.
The 21-year-old was presented the accolade at the grand ceremony, held at the British Museum, which recognises young people who have overcome barriers, developed new skills and improved their education prospects.
Jay was a straight A* student at school but developed mental health issues after coming out as transgender.
This meant he didn’t get the grades he wanted at GCSE, and his mental health further deteriorated when studying to retake them.
Jay took part in The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge programme, where he gained a qualification, became a volunteer, and went on to study an Access to Health and Human Sciences course at Highbury.
Jay, from Waterlooville, said: “Highbury has a really nice atmosphere. I would 100 per cent recommend it to others. I have struggled throughout the year but my tutors and other staff have really supported me. I love this place; I made a lot of friends, it was lovely. My course was stressful but it does set you up perfectly for uni.”
The 21-year-old is now studying mental health nursing at the University of West London.
Jay added: “I joined Prince’s Trust to try and get out of the house. I made a massive improvement the four months that I spent there. I think a lot of people wouldn’t think that getting through college is such an achievement, but for me I’d been out of school for five years. I’d already done three years of college before this, so to have been able to do the equivalent of three A Levels in one year, I’m really happy with that. I wouldn’t be where I am now without The Prince’s Trust.”