Student or Learner
This is a success story of a man who entered a college by making great effort. I can understand he won three awards at the prize-giving, but what do you mean by "awarded a place at college"? Your admission is not something awarded like a prize. Does the verb "award" just mean "confer or give"?
ex)..In those critical few months I worked so hard that I ended up winning three awards at the end of year prize-giving. The best part was being able to tell my dad that I'd been awarded a place at college...
Any reward can be awarded. A soldier can be awarded a battlefield promotion, a company can be awarded a contract, and a student can be awarded a place at college.