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    Top sporting stars dropped into City of Wolverhampton College this week as part of a campaign to encourage more youngsters to consider going to university.

    Olympic Gymnast and 2012 medallist Kristian Thomas,  professional boxer Lauren Johnson, Great Britain Rhythmic Gymnast Meme Cesar, British Junior Judo Champion Kelly Peterson-Pollard, and England Indoors Cricketer Ali Tariq, visited the college to launch Aspire to HE’s ‘tHEy did; you can’ campaign on October 10.

    They were joined by alumni from University of Wolverhampton to talk to students about their professional journeys to date and their experiences in higher education.

    Over the next two weeks the sport stars and graduates will be heading out to different schools and colleges across Telford and Wrekin and the Black Country to teach guest lessons and classrooms and host question and answer sessions on their career paths to date and their experience at university.

    They will be joined by Chief Executive of the Children’s University, Helen O’Donnell, and Leader of Telford and Wrekin Council, Cllr Shaun Davis, to share a clear message; all young people should be aiming high and consider university.

    Chair of Aspire to HE and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton Jackie Dunne said: ‘We know that many young people see university as a step too far for them when this could not be further from the truth. This is particularly the case with young people who have no close family members that have previously been to university. I know that many of our local employers are looking for more skilled, local young people, and this includes more graduate talent. I hope that hearing the stories of some of our brilliant current students and former students can inspire more young people to aim high and consider university.”

    Kristian Thomas said: ‘It was a real honour to be approached by Aspire to HE to be part of their ‘tHEy did; you can’ campaign. Growing up locally, I know the importance of having role models and someone who can show you what is possible. I worked hard to achieve what I did in sport and am continuing to work hard at the university of Wolverhampton to support the next phase of my professional life. There’s absolutely no reason why these young people cannot do the same’.  

    Principal of City of Wolverhampton College Claire Boliver said: ‘We are delighted to be working with the university on this valuable project, which will help young people reach their full potential.

    “Too many talented youngsters leave school or college without ever considering Higher Education as an option, and we want to make sure that everyone with the talent to succeed has the opportunity to do so, and progress on to HE, whatever their background’.

    The campaign is organised by Aspire to HE – a partnership funded through the government’s National Collaborative Outreach Programme and led by the University of Wolverhampton to support the government’s aims of doubling the number of young people from ‘disadvantaged backgrounds’ to higher education by 2020. The Aspire to HE partnership is made up of the University of Wolverhampton working in partnership with seven further education colleges and over forty secondary schools to support informed, ambitious decision making with regard to higher education.

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