Nilton Pimenta, 18, was thrilled at being named among seven students across the country to be in contention for the annual Association of Colleges’ award.
He was put forward by the college where he achieved an A and two Bs in his A Levels last summer, which secured him a place at the University of Manchester where he is studying for a BA Social Sciences.
Nilton received homophobic abuse when he came out as gay when he was 15 but has remained proud of his sexuality and campaigned on a wide range of diversity issues.
He said: “This is incredible! I’m so honoured and completely overwhelmed by this nomination. During my time at WestKing, I went from strength to strength with our student ambassadors to promote equality, diversity and inclusion through a wide range of societies, podcasts and LGBTQ+ resources across the college.
“One thing I’ll remember so fondly is the sense of belonging felt by the student groups and the promotion of a study friendly environment. The college will always have a special place in my heart, and I want to thank all the staff at WestKing for their fabulous work.”
In her nomination for Nilton, Laura Elliott, Head of Learner Services and Operations, wrote: “Nilton has fearlessly held his identity as a gay man with pride, using his experiences to fuel his desire for equality and awareness with a tenacity that is nothing short of inspirational.”
Nilton’s sheer determination saw him elected as a Student Governor, representing 10,000 students. He also wrote articles for student websites and helped create banners to promote inclusivity at the college.
Laura continued: “Nilton leads from the front, unapologetically sharing his views with others on how to improve a diverse range of issues within the college, such as the socio-economic divide, racism and LGBT awareness.”
While he was at WestKing, Nilton was awarded the Camden Spotlight Award in this year’s Camden Youth Awards, presented to a young person who has provided help and support to a group of people at their place of education or in the community.
He was also named among the recipients in this year’s Jack Petchey Achievement Awards, which each year recognise around 12,000 outstanding young people aged 11-25 from schools, colleges and youth organisations across London and Essex.
Finalists for the Student of the Year awards will be chosen by a panel of judges and named at the Association of College’s Annual Conference in November with the winners and runners up announced next spring.