A STUDENT who has been honoured for hundreds of hours of volunteer work is hoping to help autism sufferers.

Burnley graduate Aleesha Begum is also celebrating a wealth of achievements at the University of Central Lancashire which have made her graduate the first in her class.

She has also landed her first job as a litigation assistant at a Blackburn solicitors after her voluntary work helped gain her a First Class degree.

The 22-year-old has been described by teachers as one of the highest achievers in UCLan’s School of Psychology, despite dedicating huge amounts of her time to various charities and organisations.

Local groups who have benefitted include the British Red Cross, Barnado’s, Building Bridges and Action for ASD.

She has even been awarded the v100 award by volunteer organisation vInspired for completing more than 100 hours of voluntary work.

She has already secured a job with Walker Prestons Solicitors in Blackburn, after job hunting for just two weeks.

Her volunteer work at autism charity Action for ASD was even the inspiration behind her final year project which earned her a grade of 80 per cent, one of the highest scores achieved by a psychology student.

Aleesha said: “Action for ASD is a resource centre for people with autism and I witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by the parents there.

“I was interested in the different experiences of different families so for my final project I investigated predictors of parental stress experienced by parents of children with ASD.

“My volunteer work really motivates me and if anything it pushes me to apply myself to be the best I can be because I know people depend on me.”

As well as graduating with first class honours, Aleesha has twice been awarded UCLan’s Academic Achievement Award, beating 300 other students to the top spot.

The award is presented to the student who has achieved the highest grade in their subject at the end of the academic year.

Other accolades she has received during her time at UCLan include the nationally recognised Bronze Livesey award for her role as course representative and the Futures Gold award, which involved taking additional modules and exams.

She added: “My plan at the moment is to work my way up in my new job role and to continue with my volunteer work, but I want to return to UCLan at some point to do a PHD. I’d like to use that to do further research into autism.”