A student of distinction...

Joe Panasiuk, Sheffield College
Joe Panasiuk, Sheffield College

EVEN at the age of 18, Sheffield student Joe Panasiuk is making an early impression with his entrepreneurial flair.

He has achieved top distinction grades at Sheffield City College, launched a successful business and won an award, despite having to leave school early because of a family tragedy.

Joe is the main carer for his younger sister, Georgina, following the death last year of his mum Elaine, who was 47 and had breast cancer. It meant him leaving King Edward VII School without completing the second year of A-levels.

Instead, he decided to go to college where he met all his deadlines while looking after his sister - cooking meals and taking care of housework at their home in Brighton Terrace Road, Crookes.

He gained distinction grades in a BTEC Diploma Level 3 in enterprise and entrepreneurship as part of the college’s National Enterprise Academy, combining course work with the launch of a quarterly tabloid called Stamped, targeting students and promoting the work of local artists, musicians and photographers.

Developed in partnership with local agency Kaimera Creative, the first edition sold out of advertising space and all 1,500 copies placed in entertainment venues were snapped up within two days. Subsequently, Joe won the Sheffield Young Entrepreneur Award.

His achievements are all the more remarkable given his responsibilities outside college. “Mum died just after I turned 16,” said Joe. “It was difficult, and my education suffered badly. Obviously there were a lot of negatives, but it gave me the chance to watch a little girl growing up. It was interesting to take the responsibilty.”

Now he is starting a foundation degree at Hillsborough College before going to university. At the same time, he is buzzing with business ideas, including working with a car dealership on a scheme that could see young drivers paying as little as £600 a year insurance instead of £3,000 to 4,000.

Stamped was launched at Soyo nightclub where Joe teamed up with drummer Paul Fenton of T Rex, one of his favourite bands. It has now been shelved while he works on other projects. He added: “Everything is going great now.”

College programme manager Andrew Sale said: “Sheffield has some truly remarkable young people, and Joe is a shining example of that. When I first met him, he was looking for an opportunity to get back on track through a fresh challenge that would channel his thoughts and energy. Joe did brilliantly on the course despite adversity, rose to every challenge, launched a fantastic business concept, and passed at distinction level.”