AN ELGIN High pupil has been named the Scottish Student of the Year at this week’s Career Ready graduation ceremony in Perth.
17 year-old Kiara Ross, who lives in Elgin, received the accolade in front of all the Scottish graduates, including 36 from Moray’s eight secondary schools.
Designed to boost social mobility and increase employability, Career Ready opens up the world of work to young people by offering a structured programme for 15-18 year-olds, focussing on mentoring, internships, masterclasses and workplace visits.
After becoming disengaged with school life in S4 and following regular exclusions, Kiara realised she wouldn’t achieve her ambition of becoming a family lawyer if she continued her pattern of behaviour.
On the advice of older pupils, Kiara started the Career Ready programme in February 2016, but was so shy that she couldn’t even meet her mentor, Quality Improvement Officer for Moray Council, Karen Lees.
Now, two years on, she has overcome personal challenges, turned her academic life around, increased her confidence and has four conditional offers to study law at university. But it’s not been an easy journey for her, she said.
“Between the ages of 14-15 I felt like everything that could go wrong, did. I didn’t know why my life seemed so different to my friends. Nothing made sense and I felt trapped in a vicious cycle.
“I joined the Career Ready in 2016 and I enjoyed it so much I’m now an ambassador for the programme. I’ve got a great network around me now. My relationships with teachers, family and friends has completely changed for the better.
“I now have confidence and skills for the workplace. I’ve matured, and I’m driven.”
Kiara’s mentor, Karen, praised her transformation in her personal development and confidence.
“She is a confident young lady who is ready to grasp the challenges and rewards available to her in the next stages of her learning and in life beyond school. I have enjoyed the mentoring programme within Career Ready and being part of Kiara’s journey, and I look forward to her successes beyond school and Career Ready.”
Judges for the Scottish competition were impressed by Kiara’s attitude, resilience, and commitment to taking control of her own future.
“Through working hard her grades have improved, she has gained experience at the Sheriff Court, shadowed a solicitor and is studying law through the Open University. As a result she now has conditional acceptances to study law next year.”
Moray Council’s Head of Schools & Curriculum Development, Vivienne Cross, paid tribute to the efforts of all 36 Moray Career Ready graduates.
“All their hard work has paid off and I was delighted to be there to present their graduation certificates. Taking part in the Career Ready programme has helped these young people gain the skills and confidence to pursue their ambitions.
“Last night we held a local event so that parents, teachers and mentors could come along. We all enjoyed celebrating the success of our S6 students and Career Ready graduates together.”
Diageo’s Bioenergy Manager, Sean Pritchard, said the company was proud to sponsor Career Ready in Scotland.
“It was great to be in Perth this week to celebrate the success of Moray’s Career Ready graduates. A special mention has to go to Kiara for her tremendous achievement, but we’re thrilled for all 36 S6 pupils.”
Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live. Nestling between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands, Moray stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Brodie Castle in the west.