Shadrak Mushengezi, a student from Open Academy in Norwich, has been announced as this year's Student of the Year at the Norfolk Education Awards 2023.

Described as an “unbelievably exceptional student”, Shadrak came to the UK from Congo, where he had a difficult start to life. His brother has a rare heart condition, and his mother also has health issues, which means he has been a young carer for most of his life. 

All of these experiences have given Shadrak the passion to pursue a degree in medicine, which he started this year at Swansea University. 

Throughout his time in sixth form, he sought out courses and experiences to help him gain an insight into the world of medicine.

He has attended several courses around the country and was also lucky enough to secure a bursary from The Nuffield Foundation and complete a two-week research placement in Biomedical Science at Anglia Ruskin University.

As well as his academic brilliance, Shadrak also captained the high school football team to victory, represented England at the Gothia Cup in Sweden, broke the Norfolk 200m record which stood for 15 years and won The Platten Plate for demonstrating school core values. 

He was also, unsurprisingly, head boy at Open Academy.

The judges were astounded by the nomination for Shadrak, who continues to overcome adversity but remains committed to his learning at university. 

Despite being a young carer with a significant journey to school each day, the judges commended Shadrak’s participation in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. He also supported his peers with revision, mentored younger students and worked extremely hard in his academic studies. 

The nomination for Shadrak said that “everyone loves him, he deserves this award so much”, and the panel were in complete agreement.

Commenting on the award, Shadrak said: “At Open Academy, we did everything as a whole school. 

“Personally I don’t think I would have accomplished this without the support of Open Academy, the headmaster Mr Ford, and especially Mrs Mulloy, the head of sixth form.”

For more information on the Norfolk Education Awards, please visit the website.

To find out more about all of this year's finalists, please click here.

The finalists

Mabel Lea – City of Norwich School

Mabel completed her A-levels at the City of Norwich School (CNS) this summer. 

The school said she was a very positive, relatable and modest student who grasped and sought opportunity; balancing her academic prowess with dedication to her friends, the school and her leadership within it.

The judges were particularly impressed with Mabel’s commitment to social justice and social change in her school, alongside her obvious commitment to her academic studies. They said she “seems to be consistently willing to stand up for what is right”.

Max Cawston – St Clements High School

Max is a conscientious Year 8 student from St Clements High School in regard to his own learning and interaction with those around him. 

This year, Max entered the Rotary Young Writer 2023 competition with a poem he’d written for his grandad, inspired by his bereavement, and was awarded the district intermediate winner. 

He has also raised money for a dementia charity and volunteers at a dementia cafe.

The judges were touched by the remarkably positive way that Max responded to difficult personal circumstances by raising funds for dementia charities, alongside his continued focus on learning.