A WEE COUNTY woman has been named Forth Valley College's Student of the Year for 2020.

Sam Hudson, 34, graduated in June 2020 with an HNC in Working with Communities.

She was named Student of the Year 2020 by the college and also scooped the award for Most Inspirational Student in the Department of Business and Communities graduation awards.

The Tullibody woman is now continuing her studies at the University of West of Scotland to earn an undergraduate degree.

Sam said: "It's amazing; absolutely brilliant. I was surprised to win a department award let alone the Student of the Year.

"I was in a university lecture when it was announced and I wondered why my phone was so busy with calls and texts coming in.

"It was my family and friends getting in touch to say well done.

"I am proud of myself, but it is more the fact that the positive impact I am making in the community, is really making a difference."

Other students from the Wee County were also recognised for their efforts.

They included Jamie Fotheringham, 23 from Alloa, who graduated with an HND in Computing: Technical Support and was named Most Inspirational Student in the Department of Creative Industries, Hospitality and Tourism.

Paulina Majerowska, 26 from Sauchie, was also recognised as the Most Promising Student in the Department of Care, Sport and Construction, having graduated with an HNC in Childhood Practice

Sam's entry into the academic world came after "a few rocky years" which saw her become a lone parent.

She explained she had started her course two years ago "with little self-confidence or belief".

She added: "Never in a million years did I think I would go on to complete the HNC or apply for university.

"The support and learning throughout at FVC developed my confidence and abilities and I have met some amazing people along the way too.

"The lecturers who deliver the course were supportive and encouraging and they used lived-experience to further develop my learning.

"The course has benefited me as at the start all I knew was that I wanted to gain employment in a community, but with the personal development and in-depth teachings of Working with Communities, I soon discovered a real passion and aptitude for empowering people and helping them to discover their true potential and wanting to see positive change within society.

"I would recommend the course as it not only gives you the skills, knowledge and experience of community work, but builds a person's confidence and interpersonal skills too."

College principal Dr Ken Thomson said Sam had shown enthusiasm, determination and talent time and time again over her course.

He added: "This was exemplified at the start of the pandemic lockdown in March when she was at the heart of a community hub, that she and her classmates set up in Alloa to help vulnerable people in her community."