TRURO Cathedral was full of laughter, smiles and tears of joy on Saturday as more than 500 students from all Cornwall College sites celebrated their successes and graduated in front of friends, family and former lecturers.
Donning the traditional cap and gown, students received scrolls at the ceremonies to mark the end point of their hard labour after spending years working towards their ultimate goal of achieving a degree.
This year saw for the first time three graduation ceremonies take place as 935 students, more than ever, passed degree level courses at one of the College’s sites in Camborne, Newquay, St Austell, Saltash, Falmouth, Stoke Climsland and Rosewarne, as well as through the county’s School of Education and Training and the Centre for Housing Support, based in Worcester. Over 520 students attended one of the three ceremonies held at the Cathedral, which also marked the first of many to come for the College’s new CEO and Principal Amarjit Basi.
“It is always a pleasure to see graduates surrounded by their proud family and friends on such a happy occasion,” said Amarjit Basi, CEO and Principal of Cornwall College. “Our annual graduation ceremonies are magnificent events and as a college we are very proud of all of our students’ achievements. They fully deserve the recognition they receive for their success, and I wish them all the best as they move on to the next stage in their careers. ”
In his speech Mr Basi added: “As graduates you have gained skills to improve this county and now have the opportunity to take the lead in the future development of Cornwall.”
Students graduated from over 100 university courses ranging from foundation and bachelor’s degrees in Business, Sports, Marine Science and Teaching, to Horticulture, Equine and Zoological Conservation, with all undergraduate degrees awarded by Plymouth University in a long standing relationship which spans over 25 years. Graduates also celebrated passing the Masters in Management awarded by Coventry University.
“The importance of higher education is crucial to the growth of the economy of Cornwall and as a college we play a central role in providing the opportunity for students to study for a world class degree in the county,” added Amarjit Basi. “We are committed to the development of degree level courses and are also very proud of the expertise and inspiration of our staff in enabling our learners’ success.”
Kelly-Marie Martin from Redruth, who graduated with a Certificate in Education from Cornwall College St Austell, said: “I am really pleased to be here today graduating as it shows that all my hard work has paid off. I decided to have a complete change of career from working in admin to teaching. As a working mother it was hard going studying, but worth it. I have now qualified as a post-16 teacher and am employed as a programme manager teaching business administration.”
Gemma Hill from Falmouth, who graduated from Cornwall College Saltash with a Foundation Degree in Early Childhood Studies, said: “I really enjoyed my course as it suited me studying one day a week. As I have a child the course enabled me to undertake my placement where I lived and as a result I’m now working full-time in a nursery.”
Sophie Brewer from Penryn, who graduated with a Foundation Degree in Marine Conservation from Cornwall College Newquay, said: “I chose my course because of the practical aspect of it. I found it really interesting and liked the fact that the lecturers assisted in finding work experience to give you as much insight into the field as possible.”
Jason Smeeth from Camborne, who graduated with a BSc (Hons) Degree in Sports Performance and Coaching from Cornwall College Camborne, said: “It’s nice to be graduating as it feels like a chapter of my life is closing, in a good way. I really enjoyed my course as I liked the practical coaching side of it as it’s very current. I have been able to use my skills learnt from the course in my current job as a coach at a primary school.”
Guest speaker at the ceremonies was Toni Pearce, President of the National Union of Students and a former Cornwall College student. Addressing the audience with passion and purpose, in her speech she said: “Nothing is as humbling as being able to speak here today. I urge you to believe in yourself and to take all advice given to you with a pinch of salt. Success is made from your own self-assurance and you need to make your own decisions that are right for you.”
The second ceremony saw for the first time Veterinary Nursing students read their professional declaration in front of Liz Coz from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and all at the Cathedral. Liz said: “I was very pleased to be celebrating with the students. Their professional declaration marks the start of their professional career and enables them to join the register for vet nurses.”
Special awards were presented to graduates singled out for their efforts. The Plymouth University Student of the Year was presented to Jay Minuti from Plymouth who graduated with an FdSc in Zoological Conservation from the Newquay campus. Jay was chosen because of her excellent research skills, her incredible hard work as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassador and her volunteering for SINNG (Student Invasive Non-Native Group).
Rachel Hamilton from Truro who graduated with an FdSc in Veterinary Nursing from Duchy College Rosewarne received the same accolade in the second ceremony and Jason Smeeth from Camborne who studied the BSc (Hons) in Sports Performance & Coaching at the Camborne campus collected it in the third ceremony. Rachel’s lecturer Emily Wilkinson said: “She will be as much a credit to the veterinary nursing profession as she was to the College.”
The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce Student of the Year award was presented by Chief Executive, Kim Conchie, to Julie Heard from Bude who graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Rural Business Management from Duchy College Stoke Climsland. Julie’s lecturer Jurie Intachat said: “Julie conducted herself well professionally and was seen as a role model to her fellow classmates. She achieved a 1st class honours and her honours project was carried out at the request of a private company with her findings generating great interest to the company. It was therefore not surprising when she was offered a job as a Specification Technologist with Tamar Foods.”
Each ceremony ended in style with graduates processing down the central aisle of Truro Cathedral to a soundtrack of Heather Small’s song Proud.
Cornwall College is currently taking applications for courses starting in 2014, with a range of bursaries and scholarships available to those eligible. For details see www.cornwall.ac.uk or call 0845 22 32 567.