Higher education students celebrate achievements at graduation ceremony

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Peaches Golding OBE, The Lord-Lieutenant of the City and County of Bristol joined hundreds of proud parents, partners and friends as they gathered at Bristol Cathedral on Saturday to celebrate with more than 100 higher education students at City of Bristol College’s annual Higher Education Graduation.

Students, dressed in their gowns and hats, came together with the college’s academic staff on Saturday 23 November 2019 to mark the end of their studies at the college.

The guests included representatives from the college’s partner universities, including the University of the West of England, Plymouth University, Bath Spa University and University of Gloucestershire. Distinguished guests also included Professor Steve West, Vice Chancellor from the University of the West of England; Professor Neil Sammells, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost from Bath Spa University; Mark Stone, Head of UK Academic Partnerships from the University of Plymouth; and Dr Caroline Mills, Head of School of Natural and Social Sciences from the University of Gloucestershire. 

Lord-Lieutenant of Bristol, Peaches Golding OBE, gave an inspiring speech to the class of 2019 to use their analytical, critical thinking, team work and communications skills gained while studying at City of Bristol College.  She urged the graduates to use their skills to tackle the pressing issues facing our society and the planet, such as climate change, sustainable development, zero growth business models and more. 

Speaking about the event, she said: “I am so very proud of the achievements of each one of the graduates at today’s ceremony. I expect that all their hard work, determination and bravery will be rewarded as their careers develop and progress. I am so grateful to have been involved in celebrating this milestone with them, their families and academic tutors.”

The event also celebrated five students who were awarded a special graduation prize.

Kayleigh Gresty took home the Plymouth University Academic Partnership Prize. The award recognises a student’s achievement made during either HNC, Foundation Degree or Honours year studies and someone who has evidenced an exceptional distance travelled on their learning journey, their achievement being greater than might have been predicted at enrolment.

Kayleigh, who gained a Distinction in FdA Professional Photography, said she could ‘hardly believe’ how far she had come after previously struggling to cope with university life.

She said: “Everyone at the college was so supportive. In my first year I focused on mental health, photographing people who had mental health through a series of images. I wanted to show people that you should and can talk about it and it isn’t always visible. In my second year I randomly did fashion.

“Photography definitely helped my own healing and I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t taken the leap. I have gone from not even being able to get the bus to college to flying on my own to Miami Fashion Week to work.”

The aspiring entrepreneur has set-up her own business working with bloggers and social media influencers in campaigns.

A piece of Kayleigh’s work was also presented to keynote speaker Peaches Golding OBE at the graduation as a gift.

Other prize winners included:

Tom Bray Award for Endeavour
Romy Shiner (FdA Creative Arts Therapies Studies)

Tom Clark Memorial Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement (sponsored by the Guild of Guardians)
Antolin Thevathasan (HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering)

Nick Beckett Memorial Prize
Katherine Shoosmith (HNC in Construction and the Built Environment – Civil Engineering)

Martin Gibbs Memorial Prize
James Bihan (FdA Professional Photography)

Principal and Chief Executive of City of Bristol College, Andy Forbes said: “This awards ceremony is about the outstanding achievements of individuals, but it’s also a chance to celebrate the power of education to uplift families, communities and the local economy of Bristol.

“The skills and confidence of these new graduates - who come from all sections of Bristol’s diverse population - will help ensure local people benefit from Bristol’s economic success. City of Bristol College makes it possible for people of all ages and backgrounds to bridge the gap between where they were, where they are now and where they want to be in the future.”

Click here to view photos from this year’s event or have a look at them on Facebook

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