Joseph Musa has received his BA History of Art from the University of Essex after also gaining a Colchester Youth Award for his inspirational approach to his studies.
Joseph, whose family are from Nigeria, suffered serious spinal injuries following a diving accident while completing high school in the United States.
His determination to recover from his injuries has defied the expectations of doctors who believed it would take years to regain any movement in his limbs. He was still using a walking frame when he arrived at the Colchester Campus, but the strength of his spirit is shown by the fact he walked unaided to receive both his degree at his Graduation ceremony and his award at the Colchester Youth Awards prize evening.
He was nominated for his Colchester Youth Award by Libby Armstrong, deputy school administrator in the School of Philosophy and Art History, for inspiring staff and students through his cheerful and hardworking approach to his studies.
This includes showing amazing determination to make the most of a study trip to Florence, not the easiest of cities for those with a disability.
Joseph said: “It was fantastic to receive the Colchester Youth Award, I was really honoured and with graduation coming up as well, I was so inspired and uplifted.
“My first month at Essex was difficult, but my lecturers were fantastic, particularly Lisa Wade and Caspar Pearson. They were so helpful and anytime I needed extra help Libby was there for me.
“I have had wonderful teachers and wonderful classmates and have really enjoyed the whole experience of being at Essex.”
Joseph is also thankful for the support he received from Christ Embassy based in Lexden as he believes his Christian faith has been central to his recovery: “They were so wonderful and so much fun too.”
Joseph hopes to return to Essex to complete a Masters next year.
Libby said: “Joseph thoroughly deserves his success in winning the Learning and Participation Award. I nominated him because of his dedication, commitment and exceptional good humour whilst studying for an Art History degree, never letting his disability get in the way and participating fully in gallery visits and the student visit to Florence. He has been an inspiration to both fellow students and staff.”
Other individuals and University-based groups shortlisted for the Colchester Youth Awards were:
- The Rotaract Club of Colchester in the Community Improvement category
- Economics student Michael Ai in the Entrepreneur category
- The Essex Million Makers Team in the Volunteer category
More information about those nominated:
Essex Million Makers Team: raised a record breaking fundraising amount as part of The Princes Trust Million Makers Challenge. Between October 2011 and January 2012 a team of 18 University students set up a mini enterprise to plan and run a number of profitable fundraising events and not even the extreme winter temperatures deterred them from their activities, often seen shivering on the University campus in their fundraising endeavours. Enthusiasm and sheer determination saw this team raise £12,000 in just eight weeks, representing the lion’s share of the £18,000 raised by all the UK University teams combined.
Rotaract Club of Colchester: Based at the University of Essex, the club focuses it’s voluntary and charity actions on addressing global and local community issues, working on global projects which tackle today’s most critical issues, including drug abuse, violence, AIDS, hunger and the environment. Locally the Rotaract Club has been working with our local schools in a variety of ways, teaching children to play chess, sharing their experiences of living in different parts of the world and the diversity of cultural traditions. The club has also been working alongside younger members of the community to improve open spaces while also fundraising for various charities.
Michael Ai: An Economics student who has founded a student corporation called My Wi to provide Wi-Fi internet for students. Michael’s entrepreneurial skills extend beyond his business involvement and he is also a key figure in SIFE, an organisation that dedicates time to nurturing the entrepreneurial skills of university students. Michael is also involved with the Essex Enterprise Group, part of a national Government backed initiative.