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3rd November 2006 at 00:00
Name Shahrzad Sarzaneh Born 1971 Job Hairdresser Attended South Nottingham College Studied English, A-Level maths,NVQ level 2 in hairdressing

Shahrzad arrived in Britain 14 years ago from Iran, speaking little English, but with a love for hairdressing. She attended college not only to learn English but also to help fulfil her dream of owning her own salon.

Two years ago she spotted an old public convenience near the college and converted it into a salon and now employs two students from the college itself and runs a thriving salon called Chic.

"I have been to South Nottingham College at three different times. It has been good for me. When I get very old and when I retire I am going to go back a fourth time and do flower arranging.

I love learning and I love the college. I have always believed that you should make your mind up and know what you want to do and then learn a skill and how to use it.

I don't believe college should be just about fun. The college has helped me with courses which are useful in everyday life.

When I arrived here I did English as a foreign language for a year as I had only a limited knowledge of it.

Kate Preston was the English teacher and she was brilliant. She knew all the names of the foreign students and she helped a lot.

The first day I went to college I was scared. I thought 'this is too much.

How am I ever going to learn English?' But the teachers helped me and the other students a lot.

I had my son while I was at college in 1993. Kate was fantastic. She would come and pick me up because I could not drive and show my child to the other students.

She didn't just teach, she wanted to help. She had plenty of things on her hands and was busy, but she would always help you and take you places you needed to be.

After having my son, I did my maths A-level. I was quite good at maths and computer programming in Iran. My maths tutor at college was called Hannah.

She has retired now.

I then went to Trent university and did computer studies. It was difficult to find a job in 1998 because I had no experience, was a mature student, and expecting a baby.

In Iran I had done a little bit of hairdressing and was keen to learn it properly.

So in 2002, I went back again to do a NVQ level 2 in hairdressing. I spent two years on that course and then completed level 3.

I was good at creating things with my hands. I wanted to have my own business and be able to look after my kids, as by now I had a second one. I thought if I had my own business, I could work when I wanted.

There was a hairdressing salon in the college and they (the team) would book clients for you to practice on their hair. It was a good way to learn.

I used to see this toilet near the college and I thought I could change it into my salon.

After talking to my husband, the idea just grew and I bought it from auction in 2004 and transformed it.

Now I have two assistants, Kerry Dexter and Ameena Haque, who work for me and they are also carrying out their level two courses at the college."

Shahrzad Sarzaneh was talking to Shekhar Bhatia

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