Westminster Kingsway College’s Deputy Director for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) has been awarded an MBE in the 2023 New Year Honours.
Paul Nee, who has worked for the college for nearly a decade, was recognised for services to further education in the first honours bestowed by His Majesty King Charles III.
He said: “When I learnt I was being awarded an MBE, I thought it was a wind-up. It was just a feeling of disbelief. But of course, I’m extremely proud. It’s one of the highest honours you can get.”
Paul joined WestKing as Head of Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (LDD) and High Needs in September 2013 and was promoted to Deputy Director for SEND in December 2020.
He oversees around 120 specialist SEND staff across all WestKing’s sites including those looking after students with more complex needs at the college’s King’s Cross Centre, Alexandra Centre and Kennet West Skills Centre.
During his time at WestKing, Paul oversaw the transformation of the Alexandra Centre into an outstanding service, which had been deemed inadequate while under a different provider.
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Among his other career highlights was a SEND student who progressed into mainstream education at the college and is now studying for a degree at UAL: London College of Fashion.
Paul, who lives in Coventry and commutes to the college most days, said: “When you look at special needs, I’ve almost done the full circuit of what you can work in from senior management in specialist colleges to working in a special school and a number of SEND roles for FE colleges.
“It’s just so meaningful. It’s a bit of a cliché, but you are truly making a difference to the lives of young people with learning disabilities. It’s often about tiny steps that may seem quite trivial, but for them are momentous moments. That’s what I love about it, and it’s fun.
“I am proud of what we’ve achieved in SEND and privileged to work with some fantastic managers and staff. It’s not just down to one person, you’re only as good as the team around you.”
Former Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi MP, recommended Paul for an MBE after being impressed on a visit to the Alexandra Centre when he was Minister for Children and Families.
Jasbir Sondhi, Vice Principal at WestKing, said: “Paul has been unwavering in his commitment to supporting students with learning disabilities and additional needs. He and his team were instrumental in turning around the Alexandra Centre into a high-quality provision to improve their independence and everyday lives.
“I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Paul on his MBE. This is a huge achievement and one I am sure he will agree is not just testament to his own success, but also recognition of the work of his fantastic team.”
Find out more about Foundation and Supported Learning at WestKing here.
One of the UK’s most influential women in Engineering and Construction has praised the high standard of teaching after studying with Capital City College Group (CCCG).
Phebe Mann, who is Chair of the Institution of Civil Engineers London for 2022-23, completed a Plumbing Level 2 Diploma at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London and a short course in Home Repair and Maintenance for Women at Westminster Kingsway College.
She studied both courses having already established an illustrious engineering and legal career spanning more than three decades and gaining a PhD and four Master’s Degrees.
Phebe is a chartered engineer, chartered surveyor, chartered construction manager and a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. She was named in the Women in Engineering Society’s Top 50 Women in Engineering 2018.
She has a PhD Collaborative Design, MSc Bridge Engineering, MSc Construction Management, MA (Cantab) Computer Science, LLM Construction Law and is a qualified barrister.
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She has worked as a Specialist Judge for the Upper Tribunal and General Regulatory Chamber and has completed engineering projects for Westminster City Council and Cambridge County Council, as well as being a Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, University of Reading, University of East London and Open University.
Phebe decided to enrol on both courses to develop her practical construction skills and increase her awareness of the trades to enable her to better address a national shortage of workers in the UK.
She said: “The students were very enthusiastic in their learning. The lecturers were excellent and devoted to sharing the skills of their professions and we learnt a great deal from the exercises and the feedback they gave us. They also provided high-quality videos of each topic, which we could view repeatedly until we understood the requirements of the course.
“My lecturer for the plumbing practical class was very patient and empathetic to his students as he explained the steps we needed to take and the health and safety requirements for each task. He had a genuine understanding of his students and adapted his teaching to meet their individual needs.”
Phebe is passionate about encouraging and inspiring more women to follow in her footsteps and pursue engineering and construction careers.
She said: “Girls tend to do better than boys in GCSE and A Level results including science, mathematics and computing. These are all important skills for engineers and construction. Women excel in skills such as good communication, innovation, creativity and analysis. They should not be intimidated by working in a male-dominated industry.”
According to the Engineering UK and there is a shortfall of 173,000 workers in the STEM sector, while the Construction Skills Network says 266,000 new workers are needed by 2026
“If you are passionate about engineering, discover your potentials, seek opportunities, equip yourself, develop a positive learning attitude and be determined to be successful,” said Phebe.
“Don’t be discouraged by failures. Every success is built on many failures. Don’t give up if you believe you can do it.”
Masterchef: The Professionals champion Nikita Pathakji has told how her apprenticeship at Westminster Kingsway College gave her the skills and experience for culinary success.
Nikita, 25, from Clapham, became the second former apprentice from the college to win the grand final of the BBC TV series following Alex Webb’s triumph in the competition in 2020.
She said: “This is incredible. I can’t put it into words. This surpasses every achievement of my life. I don’t know how I’m going to top this. This is it, this is the peak, I think I’ve reached it!”
Her winning menu featured a starter of seabass cured in citrus dressing with smoked aubergine and spiced red pepper purées, followed by a main of crispy chicken thighs, tortellini filled with chicken, mushrooms and coriander topped with a coconut curry sauce, and for dessert a cardamom custard tart with poached apricots and a honey tuile.
Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace said: “Nikita opened up the larder of the world and brought us dish after stunning dish after stunning dish.”
Michelin-star chef Marcus Wareing said “She’s a chef that has grown right in front of our eyes. Her food has been sublime,” while fellow judge, chef and restauranteur Anna Haugh, added: “Nikita is on the road to creating a very unique cuisine. And that is why she’s our champion.”
Nikita, who works as a Junior Sous Chef at Michelin-star restaurant Kitchen W8 in Kensington, trained at the college’s School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Victoria from 2016-19.
She undertook Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships, sponsored by The Worshipful Company of Cooks, at The Lanesborough in Knightsbridge and Claude Bosi at Bibendum in Kensington.
Nikita said: “My apprenticeship at Westminster Kingsway was a fantastic way to gain important foundational knowledge and skills, which compounded with real experience working in restaurant kitchens, set me up with both the skills and qualifications I needed to work in top Michelin-starred restaurants.
“I’m so glad I started my career on this apprenticeship. The guidance and extra support that made the job a little less daunting when I first started out.”
Nikita grew up in Derby and lived in India with her family for two years from the age of nine. As a child she would prepare meals with her mum, which inspired her love of Asian cooking.
After her apprenticeship at WestKing, she travelled for nine months around South East Asia, which further deepened her passion and appreciation for the region’s flavours and culinary styles.
Sharon Barry, Head of School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts Apprenticeships, said: “Nikita was a dedicated, passionate and highly motivated learner during her time at WestKing. It comes as no surprise that she has continued to grow and thrive within her culinary career.
“Winning Masterchef: The Professionals is a fantastic achievement, and we are all incredibly proud of her. She is a huge inspiration to all our current learners who has shown anything is possible if you believe in yourself and follow your dreams.”
A former Westminster Kingsway College hospitality student has been named runner-up in the AICR UK Receptionist of the Year competition.
Emily Gilson-Jones, 19, who works at the five-star Pan Pacific London hotel in the City, came second out of 10 finalists at a ceremony at Hotel Café Royal in Regent Street on 14 November.
She said: “It’s a huge shock to be named as one of the best receptionists in the UK, but one of the best achievements of my career so far.
“When they announced the second runner-up as the girl from Four Seasons, I thought I haven’t got a chance, but then they announced me as the first runner-up. Suddenly, they handed me a certificate and I was in tears. I’m still gobsmacked to be honest. It has only just started to sink in.”
Emily achieved a triple-starred Distinction in her Hospitality Level 3 Diploma at WestKing in 2021 and was one of two students to share the college’s Best Hospitality Student of the Year award that year.
She began her hospitality career working part time in front and back of house roles at the Roslin Beach Hotel in her hometown of Southend-on-Sea while she was studying at college.
After finishing her diploma, Emily worked as a Private Events Waitress for The Connaught in Mayfair before joining Pan Pacific London as a Front Desk Agent in March this year.
“I loved my time at WestKing. Even when everything went online during the pandemic, we were still doing all our classes and working as a team and all of the college tutors supported us,” she said.
“By the time it came to the graduation ceremony I couldn’t believe it was over. I wanted to stay on for another two years and do it all again.”
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Emily was among a group of students at WestKing who provided catering and hospitality for a schools’ event at 10 Downing Street to mark International Women’s Day just prior to lockdown.
“I remember thinking this is quite overwhelming but really cool, I’m 16 years old and I am having the opportunity to do this,” said Emily, who along with other students met then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other political figures on the day.
“My connection at The Connaught was also through the college. If I hadn’t gone to WestKing I wouldn’t be where I am now, because if The Connaught wasn’t on my CV I wouldn’t have got the opportunity at Pan Pacific.
“I’m working at a five-star hotel, which wouldn’t have happened if I had just walked out of school with A Levels and then decided I wanted to work in hospitality. WestKing gave me my first real stepping stone on my hospitality journey. I wouldn’t change it.”
Emily learnt she was among the finalists in October following an interview with AICR UK committee members after she was nominated by Nicole Cechmann, Front of House Manager at Pan Pacific.
“The team I work alongside at Pan Pacific is one of the best teams I’ve ever worked in,” said Emily.
“For a business to be successful you need to work as a team, and when you get on with the team you work with, it makes it so much easier.
“It’s also nice when guests are checking in and excited about their stay, and when they leave and they tell you their experience has lived up to or gone beyond their expectations. That is probably one of the most rewarding things. It’s the reason we work in the industry.”
The AICR (Amicale Internationale des Sous Directeurs et Chefs de Réception des Grand Hôtel) was founded by the receptionists of several hotels on the Côte d’Azur in France in 1964.
AICR UK was formed when the Association of Front Office Management (UK) joined the AICR in 1989, three years after the association was established in 1986.
Liane Bhalla, Lecturer in Hospitality, Food and Beverage and Supervision, said: “We are all super proud that Emily has finished as the first runner-up in the AICR Best Receptionist UK 2022.
“At college she showed huge potential. She was always bubbly and enthusiastic, going above and beyond what was required of her in her assignment and practical sessions in the training restaurants and happy to volunteer to take part in other events. She was clearly destined for a fantastic career in hospitality.”
Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here.
A “phenomenal” young chef from Westminster Kingsway College has been named Apprentice of the Year 2022 at Compass Group UK & Ireland’s Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards.
Dylan Patel, 25, who is undertaking a Chef de Partie Level 3 Apprenticeship at Compass Group’s head office in Chertsey, Surrey, won the award in the Retail, Hospitality and Tourism category.
The awards showcase the huge talent and hard work within multicultural communities that is made possible through the contribution and support of employers and education providers.
Dylan, from Hounslow, who started his culinary career on a Commis Chef Level 2 Apprenticeship, said: “I am so humbled and proud to being named the winner of this award.
“Taking on this apprenticeship has allowed me to follow my passion, balancing learning with practical work whilst getting paid. I love being part of the team here and learning from others around me.
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“There is always something new to uncover and that’s what I enjoy most about being a chef and I hope to build my knowledge further, as I continue this exciting journey.”
Compass Group UK & Ireland is part of Compass Group, the largest contract catering company in the world employing 500,000 people and serving 5.5 billion meals to 55,000 clients each year.
Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK & Ireland, congratulated Dylan on his “wonderful achievement.”
He further praised Dylan’s “phenomenal efforts” as he has progressed in his career and described him as a great role model for anyone looking to start an apprenticeship.
Tom Damen, Chef Lecturer at WestKing, said: “Each week at college I see Dylan’s commitment to improving his culinary skills. Through his apprenticeship at Compass Group he has excelled to a new level of professionalism and confidence.
“I would like to congratulate him on wining Compass Group’s Apprentice of the Year, which is so well deserved. He is an outstanding young chef and destined to go far in the industry.”
Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts apprenticeships here.
A chef who trained at Westminster Kingsway College has won the Craft Guild of Chefs’ prestigious National Chef of the Year competition.
Ben Murphy, who is Chef Patron at Launceston Place in Kensington, scooped the top prize at a celebratory dinner at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge attended by VIPs from the hospitality world, including Gordon Ramsay who won the competition in 1992.
April Lily Partridge, who also studied at WestKing and is Sous Chef at The Ledbury in Notting Hill, came third in the competition, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Ben served a menu of butter poached pollock, radish and oscietra followed by Lake District young fallow, watercress, onion and batek pepper, and a dessert of clementine, honey, tahitensis vanilla and yoghurt.
In an interview with the Craft Guild of Chefs at the ceremony, he said: “Winning National Chef of the Year is crazy. Seeing the standard of food today, I didn’t expect to win at all. As I said to my friends and family, I’m going to cook the food I do daily, cook food I love to eat and hope for the best.
“I was confident and in my comfort zone and felt happy with what I did. I felt I did enough, but I wasn’t sure because afterwards we got the chance to view other dishes and I saw the calibre of the chefs I was against and the level of food they were cooking.”
Ben was presented with an exclusively designed winners plate framed together with the winner’s medal from Churchill Catering, along with £500 worth of products.
He also received a cash prize of £2,500 from Knorr Professional to support his career development along with a chef experience from Continental Chef Supplies including Michelin-starred restaurants, masterclasses and artisan food classes.
Each of the finalists have also been given the chance to enjoy culinary dining experiences with well-known Michelin-starred or award-winning restaurants across the UK.
The competition was judged by a panel of professional chefs chaired by Kenny Atkinson, Chef Patron at House of Tides and Solstice in Newcastle.
He said: “Wow, what a final, with an incredible winner! I’ve absolutely loved my first year as Chair of judges and seeing the calibre of cooking we’ve witnessed today has been the highpoint.
“The brief I set, purposely left the menus open to individual interpretation so that we could clearly see each chef’s personality, skill and talent so we’ve tasted some amazing food today. Congratulations to all the finalists and well done to Ben.
“To the other nine chefs, I want to see you learn from this experience and come back next year, more determined than ever.”
Competition organiser David Mulcahy, Food Innovation and Sustainability Director at Sodexo UK and Ireland added: “The reason this competition has spanned half a century is down to the way we have developed it year on year to address the industry’s biggest issues and attracted the highest level of talent to enter and judge this competition.
“I know that Ben is joining a long list of incredible chefs who have become real ambassadors for our industry.”
The Craft Guild of Chefs is the largest UK chefs’ association with members worldwide in food service and hospitality, from students and trainees to top management, working everywhere from Michelin-starred restaurants to school catering.
WestKing alumnus, actor and comedian, Babatunde Aléshé, is getting off his Celebrity Gogglebox sofa and is off to Australia as one of the stars taking part in ITV’s smash prime-time hit show, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
Babatunde is one of Britain’s brightest black comedians. He studied Performing Arts at WestKing from 2002 to 2005 and is dreading the trials that he’s likely to face in the jungle. He told ITV that it took several attempts to persuade him to join I’m a Celebrity… because he is filled with horror at the prospect of rats, snakes and cockroaches being poured over him.
“I am going to see what happens but I know I will be doing a lot of screaming for sure,” he said.
Good luck Babatunde!
I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! starts on Sunday 6 November at 9pm on ITV. You can follow Babatunde’s exploits in the jungle – and vote for him – on ITV, online and on social media (#ImACeleb). You can find out more about his fellow contestants here.
Students immersed themselves in South Korean culture and discovered more about the country’s growing tech and green economy on an ‘unforgettable’ trip of a lifetime.
Thirty students from across Capital City College Group (CCCG) went on the three-week trip funded by the Turing Scheme, the UK’s global work and study programme, and found out there’s much more to South Korea than K-pop and Squid Game.
Staff and students from Keimyung College University (KMCU) in the southern city of Daegu welcomed the students who were paired with Korean ‘buddies’ to show them around and give them a chance to practise their Korean.
Before the trip students took lessons in Korean and visited the Korean Cultural Centre UK in London to discover more about the country’s culture, history and traditions.
The students continued to learn Korean on the trip and took part in activities including learning taekwondo and visiting the Gyeonju National Museum and surrounding national park.
They also tried many traditional dishes including dotori-muk, an acorn jelly, and chalbori-ppang, a barley bread, and later made rice cakes and tofu in the village of Danglin.
Students travelled to JEI University in Incheon and Kyungbuk College in Yeongju to see the latest advances in Industry 4.0, the development of automation using smart technology, and the green sector. They worked alongside their Korean peers to research and deliver presentations on how they and their colleges can tackle climate change and what can be done in the UK and Korea.
Rania Abdi, 18, an A Level student at Westminster Kingsway College, said: “My three weeks in South Korea made such a huge impact on me. I’ve learnt more about the green agenda and climate action, how to understand and navigate an entirely new culture and formed friendships I will value for the rest of my life.
“I am extremely grateful for this experience and will forever cherish the memories created from my short yet sweet time spent in South Korea.”
The Korean Tourism Organization secured tickets for the students to watch Tottenham Hotspur’s pre-season friendly against K-League XI, a team of players from the Korean football league, and to see Cookin’ Nanta, the country’s longest running theatrical show.
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Students also visited South Korea’s capital Seoul and took a bus tour of the sights. They were also invited to Korean Polytechnics’ artificial intelligence and engineering facilities in the city.
Sylvia Lafford, 18, a Creative Media student at Westminster Kingsway College, said: “This trip has changed my life. I always wanted to study an East Asian language and learn more about their culture. Over the next few years, I’m going to study Korean and potentially apply to a university in Seoul.
“I’ve made some amazing friends who made this trip unforgettable. Overall, it’s made me more confident in myself, but most importantly it has broadened my horizons for my future. It will stay with me for a very long time.”
CCCG comprises City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, and apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training.
Seungeun Chang, Head of International Development and Operations, said: “This was our first trip under the new Turing Scheme and was an incredible and fascinating adventure for all the students, who fully immersed themselves in the Korean culture, language and lifestyle.
“Our hosts at KMCU, JEI University and Kyungbuk College warmly welcomed us all. They arranged so many wonderful experiences for our students, from learning about Korea’s growing technology and green sectors to trying taekwondo and visiting museums and parks. I cannot thank them enough for their kindness and hospitality throughout our visit.
“Each and every one of the students on the trip has told us how much they enjoyed it and how much it will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
“We look forward to continuing to build our relationships with Korea and planning similar trips to other countries through this valuable scheme.”
Westminster Kingsway College has been named one of the best culinary schools in the world by high-profile global business magazine CEOWorld.
The college’s superb reputation is highlighted in an article on the publication’s website by Sophie Ireland, Senior Vice President for News and Editorial Director.
It rates WestKing as one of the top five schools in the world to gain the skills and technical expertise needed to become a chef.
The college was recognised alongside other illustrious institutions, namely the Culinary Institute of America in the United States, Le Cordon Bleu in France, Apicius in Italy and the Business and Hotel Management School, Switzerland.
The article read: “Sitting in the heart of London, you are exposed to the best of the world’s culture right at your college campus. Westminster Kingsway College is one of the most diverse and dynamic colleges on this list.
“This title is claimed on the back of the diversity of the courses that it offers. It matters not if you are a young person … or a professional looking to brush up your skills or someone who is looking to reorient his or her career, you can find a course that suits your needs here at Westminster Kingsway College.
“A list of notable alumni also enables you to find professional footing once you graduate from the college.”
Read the full article here: Top 5 Culinary Schools In the World
Spaces for next year are filling up fast with more than 100 offers already made to prospective students looking to study courses or take apprenticeships at the college this September.
Lidia Pozzuto, 20, who completed a Professional Chef Level 3 Diploma last year, is now working as a pastry commis chef at The Ritz London.
She said: “I chose to study at WestKing because I felt the chef diploma was the best fit for me and would give me a good all-round understanding and skillset compared to courses at other colleges.
“I learnt a lot during the course. It definitely helps you to solidify the basics to work in the industry and gives you various opportunities to gain work experience.”
“I got into The Ritz after one of my lecturers was told about possible positions by a former student who worked there. I’ve really improved my skills since I’ve been there and its very fulfilling seeing the high standard of food we produce every day.
“What I love most about working in the culinary sector is that there are so many pathways to go down and you’re constantly learning. There’s always new skills and techniques to develop.
“I want to keep on improving and continue working my way up in the industry.”
WestKing is part of Capital City College Group (CCCG), which also comprises City and Islington College and the College of Haringey Enfield and North East London and apprenticeship provider Capital City College Training.
The college’s Victoria Centre is home to the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts and two award-winning training restaurants, The Brasserie and The Escoffier, collectively known as The Vincent Rooms.
WestKing’s high-profile hospitality and culinary arts alumni include Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott, Antony Worral Thompson, Sophie Wright and Ben Murphy.
Gary Hunter, Deputy Executive Principal of CCCG, himself a trained chef and chocolatier, said: “To be mentioned in the top five culinary arts schools by such a highly respected publication is incredible. It’s even more astonishing when you consider all the other institutions are all privately funded with access to better financial resources and would be right up there on my list too.
“WestKing is certainly punching above its weight, which is down to the huge dedication of our teachers, staff and employer partners who every day inspire and motivate our students and apprentices, who in turn continue to astound us with their talent, ability and commitment to be the best they can be.”
An aspiring singer from Westminster Kingsway College has released her first professionally recorded song after being spotted by a music producer on Instagram.
Music student Elizabeth Azuero, 22, who is originally from Ecuador, co-wrote and recorded the track No Te Confundas, meaning Don’t Get Confused, in Spanish under her stage name Eli-Beth.
She was contacted by a Colombian music producer called Kenny Beach in December and recorded the song at Hazey Studios near her home in Southwark earlier this year.
Elizabeth said: “I received a notification on my phone that someone wanted to send me a message. He told me he was a producer and was looking for female singers and that he had been checking out my music on Instagram and he liked it.
“He showed me the lyrics and a demo of the song. I really connected with the chorus but wasn’t sure about some of the other lyrics. I said give me a day and I will give you some other lyrics, and that became the final song.
“It’s about a woman who gave a man a chance and enjoyed a night with him and he wants more, but she now realises it was a mistake and doesn’t want him to keep calling her.
“We both had our own expectations for the song. From the top he was saying how much he liked my voice and was excited to be working with me on this project.”
Elizabeth moved to Spain with her family when she was six months old. She spent her most of her childhood years growing up in Parla, near Madrid, before moving to the UK aged 16.
She started writing songs when she was 11. She discovered she could sing in her mid-teens and recorded her first song at 20. Her style has been inspired by her love of RnB, hip hop and soul.
“For me, the best way to write a song is to imagine a scenario in my head and put myself in that situation, said Elizabeth.
“Around every person there is life. Some situations you can experience though your friends and family, such as separation or divorce, without living it yourself.”
Elizabeth’s music has been heard online by people in UK and around the world including the United States and across Latin America.
She lists Adele, Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran among her favourite artistes who have influenced her, along with Latin American singers Karol G and Selena Quintanilla.
“Selena was one of the best Mexican-American artistes from the late 80s and early 90s in my opinion,” said Elizabeth.
“She started her own clothing brand and did so much in less time than other musicians. She made so many songs in different genres with many people and was very influential.”
Elizabeth is in the first year of studying for a Music Level 3 Diploma having previously completed a Music Level 2 Diploma at the college.
She said: “I was looking for a college where I could not only perform as a singer but also learn about music production. The course has covered a lot of topics I am interested in about the music industry, production, performances and management.
“I‘ve learnt a lot. When you like a lesson, it is because the teacher knows how to get your attention and capture your interest. At WestKing they are very supportive and have always been there for us if we’ve needed anything or help with our assignments.
“Performing is one of the best feelings. Even if I’m nervous, I really enjoy it. I know I need to work more because I’m just starting, but I want to be successful in music. It would be a dream come true.”
No Te Confundas is available on apps including Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Tidal and YouTube.
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