Denislava achieves national BTEC Awards success

Denislava achieves national BTEC Awards success

WestKing science student Denislava Andreeva couldn’t even order a McDonald’s when she arrived in the UK just two years ago. Now she is headed for top grades on her Science – Level 3 Extended Diploma course and has won silver in the final of the BTEC Awards – a prestigious national student competition. We caught up with her and form tutor Luke Brown recently, to find out more about her amazing story and the reason why she wants to dedicate her career to finding cures for diseases.

Born in Sofia, Bulgaria 17 years ago, Denislava comes from a family of female scientists: her Grandmother was a chemist and her Aunt studied Physics. Aged just 12, she came face-to-face with cancer when two close family members because very ill. “Caring for members of my own family who were suffering from illnesses, has inspired me to seek knowledge in subjects such as biology and chemistry.” she says.

Denislava came to Britain just two years ago and in that time has not only adapted to the very different UK education system, but has mastered English to the extent that she is now proficient enough to be aiming for top grades in her Science – Level 3 Extedned Diploma, which would be equivalent to three A level passes and will set her up for university and ultimately a job in any number of scientific or research fields, including as a Biological scientist, biochemist, chemical scientist or a laboratory technician, among other roles.

Denislava’s Science – Level 3 Extended Diploma is a demanding 2-year course, which includes biology, chemistry and physics. Within, for example the Biology component of the course, Denislava is studying diseases and infections – this has given her a general understanding of diseases and their treatment, which she will then be able to study further if she decides to go to university. As Denislava explains: “Doing a vocational course is ideal for me because when I first came to the UK I wasn’t able to take GCSEs, which meant I couldn’t do A Levels, so that route was closed to me. The advantage of a vocational course over A Levels is that it is so much more practical and I am not sat at a desk, but am able to do research, which really appeals to me.

“The course has given me information about the chemical composition of drugs like Penicillin.  The knowledge I have gained whilst studying will be beneficial to my future career, which I hope will be in drug development.  I have a passion for research and a strong desire to further my knowledge in medical innovation. I would like to be a part of a society which develops different technologies or drugs which prevents people suffering from illnesses.

“Due to my academic performance, I was also offered the opportunity to take part in a week-long placement at the Francis Crick Institute. During my placement, I worked as part of a small team. This was a positive experience and I used all of the collaborative skills I had gained in my course to benefit the team. I was inspired by the work experience due to the direct industry knowledge that I gained. I needed to display a professional attitude toward the workplace and my colleagues and behave professionally in the laboratory during the experiments. This experience fascinated me and solidified my choice of pursuing a career in this field. There was a sense of camaraderie at the Francis Crick institute which I found to be inspiring. Everyone had their own tasks to complete but still worked collaboratively. Overall the experience was vastly beneficial, and I found research and development to be a hugely exciting field.

“My course has also given me the opportunity to be a part of the college STEM Ambassador team. As an ambassador, my job at different events was to motivate and show people how essential science is to our daily life. Having the opportunity to explain a difficult subject like science has definitely helped my communication skills.”

Denislava with her tutor, Luke Brown

Luke Brown is Denislava’s form tutor and has seen her develop and grow her knowledge and confidence during her time with us. “I really can’t praise Denislava highly enough” he told us. “She is hard-working and diligent and always applies herself to her studies. And, thanks to her dedication and hard work at Westminster Kingsway, Denislava has an offer from University College London (UCL) to study on their new Medical Innovation and Enterprise degree course. Everyone at the college wishes her all the best in the future!”

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