Olympic gold for Weston College as graduates celebrate success
By YouPR | Monday, September 17, 2012, 09:41
THE glitter of Olympic gold dazzled more than 200 Weston College students as they graduated with Foundation and Honours degrees.
Weston College Principal Dr Paul Phillips and Olympic Gold Medallist Amy Williams
Leah Beecham, David Higgs, Abigail Davies, Jodie Smith
Gold medallist Amy Williams, MBE, who took the top spot in the Skeleton Bobsleigh event at the 2010 Winter Olympics, was guest speaker at this year's ceremony, telling graduates that 2012 is the year to celebrate effort and ability.
"In sport it is the extra percentage of work you put in that gets you the medals," she said, "and because you have all made that effort you are in a great position to go out in the world and do anything you want."
Students from many disciplines including Graphic Design, Musical Theatre, Computing, Tourism Management and Environmental Health, among others, gathered at St John's Church, close to the College's Knightstone Campus, to receive their degrees.
A samba band made up of College students led the procession up Lower Church Road. Once in the church, College Principal and Chief Executive Dr Paul Phillips welcomed students and their families before introducing the Bath-based Olympian, who described her route to the top of her sport.
Many of this year's graduates have already gained employment relevant to their qualifications, continuing the trend for high graduate employment statistics at Weston College. More than 65 per cent of the class of 2011 have now secured graduate jobs, compared to the national average of 45 per cent.
This year, 20 per cent of Weston College's honours graduates gained a First Class degree, well above the national average of 14 per cent.
Four of those came from the BA (Hons) Creative Industries: Graphic Design course. Abigail Davies, David Higgs, Jodie Smith and Leah Beecham are all now working in the design field.
Jodie, 22, said: "I was very surprised and delighted to get a First. I'm so pleased I went to Weston College because there was a nice balance between the academic and social side. The lecturers were extremely helpful and there wasn't competition between people on my course, which meant we all helped each other at different times. That made it more enjoyable for me.
"At the moment I'm working as a designer for The Real Adventure, a marketing agency in Bristol, and enjoying that. There are a number of options to explore for the future so I'll look into those as time goes on."
Also graduating with a First was Jean Perry, of Pill, who studied for a BSc Honours in Applied Computing. Her result was cause for a double celebration, as it came two days after her 60th birthday.
"Going to Weston College has been a great experience," she said. "I have had a lot of support from my tutors and that has been exceptionally useful in my situation. I came back to education in 2007, with very few qualifications, and in five years I've gone from almost nothing to gaining a First Class Honours degree.
"I'm currently working for North Somerset Council and in terms of career development I'll just see what the future brings."
Sisters Megan and Stephanie Foster, from Bawdrip, near Bridgwater, both graduated in Musical Theatre. Megan, 21, gained a BA Honours Degree while Stephanie, 23, picked up a Foundation Degree and will progress to Honours next year.
Megan said: "I'd read how good Weston College was for Musical Theatre so I decided to go there. The course has been great and given me lots of opportunities, not least going to Germany and working with a dance company. Also, I've made good friends for life.
"I've just got a job as a Baby Ballet teacher in Taunton, teaching 2-5 year-olds. I've always been interested in the dance side of my course so it's great to be able to work in this field."
Laura Rickards, from Worle, balanced the demands of a family and a job with her studies, and is now going on to Honours after gaining a Foundation Degree in Early Years.
She said: "Weston College has been a really good experience. I was a bit apprehensive about going into education again and because I've got five children and I work, there was a lot of organisation to think about, but I'm very glad I did it. I really do believe that anyone can do it if they are determined enough, and this proves it. As a mature student, the College has been very supportive of me.
"I'm now going on to complete an Honours Degree and in the future I'd like to own and run my own pre-school."
Daniel Haliburton took a Foundation Degree in Uniformed Services and turned up in his Territorial Army uniform to receive it. Daniel, of Clevedon, won the Weston College Principal's Award Scholarship earlier this year for his extracurricular activities as well as his academic ones. While working for the Portishead and Bristol Lifeboat at the age of 17, he became the youngest ever lifeboat crew member in the UK.
He said: ""One of my personal highlights was winning the Award this year. It was a complete shock, but a very proud moment.
"I'm now going on to take a BA Honours in Built and Natural Environment at the University of the West of England (UWE) and at the end of it I hope to go into the Royal Engineers. I'm already in the Territorial Army so this is a natural step forward."
After morning and afternoon ceremonies, graduates and their families walked to Weston's Winter Gardens for refreshments and a chance to socialise with friends and College teaching staff.
Speaking after the event, Amy Williams said: "It's been a delight to join everyone graduating at Weston College today. This summer has been an inspirational one for people right across the country and I think young people have been particularly inspired to see how hard our athletes have worked for their success. They have shown that you can do anything if you have determination and the will to succeed."
Dr Paul Phillips, Weston College Principal and Chief Executive, said: "I would like to congratulate everyone who has graduated this year for their hard work, dedication and commitment to their studies. Each year more and more students are choosing to study with us and they are reaping the rewards by achieving outstanding results and improving their job prospects. Long may this continue."
There are 'taster sessions' taking place for all degree courses the week beginning 8th October 2012. Or come along to Weston College's HE open evening on the 10th October. For more details please visit ãhttp://www.weston.ac.uk/hetasters.