Praise has been pouring in for two Moray secondary pupils who scooped national accolades at the National Career Ready UK Awards.
Following on from last week's success at the Scottish graduation ceremony, Elgin High student Kiara Ross was last night awarded UK Career Ready Student of the Year. Meanwhile, in the science category, Jennifer Walker from Milne's High in Fochabers received the national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) award.
Elgin High Headteacher, Hugh McCulloch, said everyone at the school was delighted for Kiara.
"We at Elgin High have supported Kiara in her journey over the last few years and we are all celebrating her achievement. It really is truly remarkable."
Headteacher at Milne's High, Trish Cameron, said: "This will hopefully inspire others to grasp these opportunities. I would like to thank everyone involved and congratulate both these fantastic students - and the team around them - who have supported this success."
Vivienne Cross, Head of Schools and Curriculum for Moray Council applauded the girls' achievements.
"To have one national winner in Jennifer, recognising her commitment to STEM learning is outstanding, but to also have Kiara win the overall Career Ready UK Award is spectacular and a testament to the hard work and dedication of the students, and of course their mentors from Chivas Brothers and Moray Council."
Moray Council's Chair of Children and Young People's Services, Cllr Tim Eagle, echoed the praise.
"For Kiara and Jennifer's achievements to be recognised at UK level is a triumph, but it wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of the pupils themselves, their mentors and support network. This is a brilliant and inspiring success story for Kiara and Jennifer, for Moray and Career Ready."
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.
Now, two years on, she has overcome personal challenges, turned her academic life around, increased her confidence and has four offers to study law at university.
Jennifer was mentored by Brian McAuley from Chivas Brothers and completed her internship with them. During this time she developed a passion for the distilling industry, and is determined to pursue a career in this industry.
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.