Talented student made up after achieving Higher Education Student of the Year

Benjie Kusita with her award

A former British soldier turned Bradford College Media Makeup with Special Effects student had a night of celebration when she was named the Association of Colleges (AoC)’s Higher Education Student of the Year.

Benjie Kusita’s incredible achievement was announced at the AoC Student of the Year Awards in Birmingham. Benjie said: “I didn’t expect to get this award. I felt so shocked and proud when my name was announced.”

The student was nominated for the award by her proud tutor Lisa Dawkins, who said: “She goes above and beyond what’s expected and she is such an amazing student and person.”

In addition to her talent and work ethic, Benjie’s amazing creations have also been recognised at various competitions and on Saturday 23 November competed at The Prosthetics Event in Coventry, a highly regarded annual forum for professionals in the special effects and prosthetics industry. A student competing against professionals in the field, she received numerous comments from judges and fellow competitors who said they loved her work.

It’s a long way from the Army, where Benjie toured Afghanistan and Cyprus among other countries. She said: “When I was in the Army, we had to do a lot of dirty things – running with the muck with 25kg in my bag, with a rifle. And I had to do exercise all the time. But for this media make-up job … sometimes it’s the same job, the make-up artist isn’t always working on the red carpet!”

Lisa said: “I nominated her as she has always stood out to me.

“The extra miles she went to, the things she had going on outside of College - which really made her want to try harder – made me and her other tutors realise how hard she wanted to work while she was here and how much it meant to her to sacrifice a lot of things to do this degree.

“Benjie is, for me, a wonderful human being – and I always feel really emotional when I talk about her, because, to me, she’s a very special student.

“She not only looks after a child as well as working, she has her own business and also supports her mum who has a Thai therapy massage business.”

Benjie has competed in various competitions and in Summer 2018, submitted an entry to Brush Wars in London. Despite being unable to attend the competition, her work was highly commended by the judges and was showcased on the organisation’s social media, which garnered compliments from famous TV/Film make-up designers such as Mandy Gold and Julia Townsend.

Bradford College has been delivering quality education and training for more than 185 years. The College is one of the biggest Further Education colleges in the country and a large provider of Higher Education. The College benefits from having Bradford School of Art onsite – offering a fabulous range of arts and creative courses.

Visit the Bradford College website to find out more about the huge range of courses, degrees and apprenticeships available in arts and the creative industries. Applications are now open for entry in 2020.

Find out more about Media Make-up & Special Effects courses at Bradford College on the website.


The winners of each category for the ‘Student of the Year’ will also be celebrated at a reception in Westminster in spring 2020.