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University of East London alumna is finalist at British Education Awards


University of East London graduate Allison Vitalis has been chosen as one of three finalists for a top prize at the prestigious British Education Awards (BEA).

Allison’s selection in the ‘Degree Category (England Zone 2)’ recognises her work as a curriculum ambassador with the University’s widening participation team and her work with a charity helping victims of knife crime.

Winners will be announced at a special ceremony in Manchester on 30 January.

Allison said, “I am delighted to have been selected as one of the top three finalists in the British Education Awards. It is a great honour and I am excited about attending the awards ceremony in Manchester.

“This, on top of getting a first-class degree at the University of East London last year and winning a NEON education award, is really fantastic, especially after all the tough times I have been through trying to achieve my goals and bring up a family.”

Allison, 44, from Hackney, achieved a first-class degree in clinical and community psychology in November. She also won ‘Student of the Year’ at the 2019 National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) Awards.

Allison was a mature student at University studying while also raising Brandon, 19, and Ariètte, 8, as a single mother.

Since earning her degree, Allison has stepped up her voluntary work helping victims of knife crime. She is passionate about wanting to help young people at risk and families who have been affected by crime.

Her charity work includes being a volunteer project director of The Charlie Burns Foundation and The Shaquan Sammy-Plummer Foundation.

Allison’s goal is to obtain a PhD in research. She aims to take a one-year break to continue working with her foundations as well as pursue other community projects and objectives, before returning to the University of East London for postgraduate study.

Allison said she hopes to use her University of East London degree to further support her community.

The British Education Awards recognise the outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements of students – and it is the only education event in the UK that celebrates individual success on a national platform.

The BEA winners are Ambassadors for British education. In shining a light on these success stories, the BEA promotes the merits of a British education on both a national and international stage. These celebrated scholars represent the best that can be achieved through dedication and hard work, whether at school, college, university or vocational level.

Allison and other nominees in her category will be evaluated on criteria including grades, extracurricular activities, community awareness and entrepreneurship.

Despite a hectic lifestyle involving family, work and studies, Allison still managed to find time to get involved in a number of volunteer projects.

She first became interested in helping victims of knife crime in 2016 while working part-time with the Hackney Playstreet organisation. The organisation’s work includes arranging for streets to be closed off at times so young people can freely play.

Allison said, “It was at that point I became aware of the effects of knife crime. Then my nephew Ramone, who is now 25, got stabbed. That made me even more convinced that something had to be done. Fortunately, he has recovered.

“I hope that the work I am doing is helping save lives and I hope that I have helped provide comfort to parents and families who have lost children through this kind of crime.”