Asha Khemka, Principal and Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College, has been appointed a DBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List.
The accolade comes five years after she was awarded an OBE for services to education.
Asha is the first Indian-born woman, for 83 years to be awarded the DBE.
Dame Asha Khemka said: “Further Education has been my life. I believe passionately in the power of Further Education to transform lives – it has mine and it does so for countless others. To receive such a recognition is deeply humbling. This is a shared honour; shared with everyone who I have worked with over the years.
“West Nottinghamshire College and the communities of Mansfield and Ashfield embraced me.
“We have worked together to achieve an ambitious vision for our communities. Without their unwavering support this would not have been possible and I pay tribute to them.
“I am indebted to my husband and my three children; throughout this journey, they have been my rock and my inspiration.
“My passion for Further Education is impossible to describe and grows more so every day. I am immensely proud to be part of this amazing sector.”
Asha has been Principal and Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College since May 2006. Since her arrival, Asha has been instrumental in transforming facilities for learning and raising aspirations of the local communities.
In 2014, Asha’s vision to provide Mansfield and Ashfield with ‘world-class’ education and training facilities will be realised when the college’s £40m redevelopment programme is completed.
Under Asha’s leadership, West Nottinghamshire College has become one of the most successful and eminent colleges in the UK.
In 2008, Asha founded ‘the Inspire and Achieve Foundation’ - a charity dedicated to improving the lives of young people who have been disenchanted and disengaged from any form of education and training. Within the last five years her charity has helped hundreds of young people get their lives back on track.
Over the years Asha has received many accolades including ‘Asian Women of Achievement’, ‘National Jewel Award’, ‘Business Women of the Midlands’ and ‘Inspirational Women of the Year.’
Asha is the founding chair of the Association of Colleges in India– an organisation aimed at progressing links between educational institutions in the UK and in India. In February 2013 Asha joined Prime Minister, David Cameron’s trade mission to India.
Jean Hardy MBE, the outgoing chair of governors, said: “This is a well-deserved honour for Asha. She has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the local communities and has made a significant contribution to the Further Education nationally.
“It is fitting that my very last act of chair is to congratulate Asha on this amazing achievement. I am sure this is only the beginning of many more exciting things to come for the college and Asha herself.”