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A-level results: City and Islington College student from war-torn Congo to study law

Hosanna Makanda, 20, who moved to the UK from Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011 and achieved A*AAB Hosanna Makanda, 20, who moved to the UK from Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011 and achieved A*AAB

Thursday, August 14, 2014
6:57 PM

Hundreds of students were celebrating at City and Islington College this morning as they matched last year’s impressive 98 per cent pass rate.

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Identical twins Lina and Laviai Nielsen each came in with an A* an A and a BIdentical twins Lina and Laviai Nielsen each came in with an A* an A and a B

The college brought in 70 per cent A* to C grades from a whopping 1,596 entries with 40 per cent of those at a grade B or higher.

Three students are set to live out their university dream at Cambridge with six on their way to University College London and four ready to embark on a medical degree.

But undoubtedly the most inspiring of the cohort was Hosanna Makanda, who could not speak a word of English when she moved over from war torn Congo in 2011.

After three years of relentless hard work she pulled out an A*, two As and a B today, including an A in English, to take up a place at Birmingham University in September.

“I think it’s my background and upbringing that made me want to study law,” said the 20 year old.

“I’ve seen violence and been a victim of violence myself and when I was growing up I wanted someone to defend me.

“I wanted to study the law so that I could defend others who cannot defend themselves.”

Hosanna got an A* in French, an A in sociology and B in History, but her English mark is the biggest point of pride.

“It was very difficult but I had great teachers,” she said.

“They pushed me to believe in myself and I have to say thanks to them. I believed in myself and now I’m here.

“In Congo education is not free and I think people take it for granted here.

“I’m very thankful to be here but I have friends at home who don’t get something to eat every day.”

The college also saw identical twins gain identical results when Lina and Laviai Nielsen each came in with an A* an A and a B.

The sisters, who have both represent Great Britain and England schools at junior level in the 400m, will part ways in September though – as Laviai goes to study geography at King’s College London and Lina, chemistry at Queen Mary University.

Lavai, who would like to work for an international NGO after university, said: “Getting our results today was surreal and a great relief – it is the first time we have ever got the same results.

“We are both really looking forward to going to university and are really pleased that we made it to our first choice universities.”

Among the students heading to Cambridge is 19-year-old Rute Costa who got A*s in English and drama and an A in history.

She moved to England from Portugal two years ago and will study English at Girton college where she hopes she can fashion a career in theatre through the University’s world famous student theatre groups.

“I had two interviews,” she said.

“It felt a bit like they were cutting my brain out but it was also really great to speak about what I love.

“I want to work in the theatre, I used to act a lot in Portugal and I like writing and the production side as well.”

Keren Abse, director at the college, said: “We’re really pleased, we’ve got students going to the universities that they wanted to and other students who have done better than they expected are now able to get places at Russell Group universities if they got an A and two Bs.

“With an overall pass rate of 98 per cent and with a considerable number of students who have gained top grades, our students have done themselves proud.”

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