Weston College graduates celebrate record success

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By YouPR | Friday, September 13, 2013, 16:16


It was a

record year for Weston College students as more than 300 graduated with Foundation and Honours degrees on Thursday

(September 12th).



and Chief Executive Dr Paul Phillips OBE said: "Ten years ago we had 20

graduates, now there are nearly 350 and next year 768 are on degree courses.


"It's been

a massive growth and we want to make Weston-super-Mare a University town.



growing reputation for degree provision is reflected in the fact that more than

65 per cent of 2012's Honours students secured a job in a related area compared

to 45 per cent nationally.


"Fifty per

cent of students gained a 2.1 degree and 21 per cent were awarded a First compared

to 16 per cent nationally.


"I would

like to congratulate everyone for their hard work, dedication and commitment. More

and more students choose to study with us and reap the rewards achieving outstanding

results and improving their job prospects. Long may this continue."



journalist and presenter, Chris Hawkins, was guest speaker at this year's ceremony,

telling graduates that 2013 is the year to celebrate effort and ability.


He added:

"The key factor in many successful people is that they love what they do

whether they are 18 or 81. I get up at 3.30am every morning to do a job I



"You are

entering the world at a tough time and it's important to prepare to be strong,

keep your dreams and negotiate around them."



from many disciplines including Graphic Design, Musical Theatre, Computing,

Tourism Management, Counselling, Environmental Health and many 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 OBE

welcomed nearly 1,000 students, guests and families during the day.


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.


On the BA

(Hons) in Creative Industries:Graphic Design, run in partnership with Bath Spa

University, 39 per cent of students achieved the highest First Class Honours




noteworthy are results from the FdA Inclusive Practice validated by the

University of the West of England with 46 per cent of students awarded a




September this year the College will offer 31 degree courses, up from 28 last




those graduating were:


*Apprentice Katie Jones was awarded a

Foundation Degree in Business Management whilst working for an engineering

company – despite breaking her back in two places in a Fench skiing accident in

January and the death of her mother, Angela, from cancer in May.


Katie, 23,

of Glass Wharf, Temple Meads, Bristol said: "I fell awkwardly and was sledged

down the mountain by paramedics then spent the next six weeks bed-ridden with

mum and dad.


"On May 10th

mum died. She was 47 and had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. It's been a

very tough year and Weston College has been brilliant. I've worked very, very

hard and managed to buy my own flat in December 2012 and have no debts.

"I don't

feel I missed out on going to university. Now my back has healed I'll be skiing

again at the end of the year."


*Steven Philp who gained a Foundation

Degree in Music Production.

Steven, 26,

of Mead Vale, Weston, has Asperger's Syndrome and started at Weston College without qualifications when he was 16. Since

then he has gained enough confidence to front a national autism campaign

launched in front of hundreds at the House of Commons.



said: "Before I came to Weston College I was completely shy and reserved. I did

not have many friends.


here has given me confidence and social skills. I don't need help with academic

work but do with the social side. Weston College is like my second home."


His mum,

Liz, added: "I'm so proud of him. He's done so well thanks to the College."


*Husband and wife, Aimee and Grant McKechnie

of Weston are enjoying a double celebration as both graduate together.

Aimee, 29,

was awarded a degree in Counselling and Grant, 39, in Tourism Management.


Grant is

has also just started his new job with Weston College as a Student Engagement Officer.


He said: "I was diagnosed with ME after

pneumonia eight years ago and at one point could hardly walk. We've been

through a lot together so wanted to graduate together.


"My illness forced me to give up work at holiday

camps where I dressed as Rory the Tiger, Freddie Fox, Bradley Bear and my own

creation Snooty Fox.


"We've got a lovely two-year-old daughter now

and it's great to work at Weston College – my experience at the holiday camps

now helps me get up in front of hundreds of students and chat to them."


*Amelia Hurrell of Shepton Mallet gained

a First in Graphic Design and the 22-year-old also scooped a £1,000 award along

with work experience at Sky Creative's London headquarters for her ingenious

mobile and tablet App.



at the New Designers Exhibition her 'ME and You' App supports young people with

ME (Myalgic

Encephalomyelitis).  Amanda said: "It's a

testament to the tutoring and help I have received at Weston College.


"My sister has ME, and her experiences at school inspired this project

and I cannot believe how far it has come.


 "The App and other communication

tools I developed use an easily understood unique visual language that also

offers tips for teachers on how to help and better integrate those with ME into

the classroom."



graduating with a First was Samantha

Richardson who was awarded an Early Years BA (Hons). Samantha, 36, of

Weston Village, had her daughter when she was just 18 and a son two years


She said:

"I used to look at teachers when I was in junior school and want to be one. But

I dropped out of A Levels and thought having children so young I'd never

achieve my dream.



back to College was daunting but I was determined and my husband Gavin has been

the most amazing support. When I was told I got a First I cried. Now I'm

starting my post-graduate teacher training and my dream is going to come true

thanks to Weston College."


*Mother-of-five, Laura Rickards and

mum-of-two, Tina Hale, both gained a 2.1 BA (Hons) in Early Years and

became such good friends they hope to set up a pre-school nursery in Weston.

Laura, of

whose children range from age 23 to 12, said: "Most of my life I've brought up

children. I thought going to university would pass me by, now I've got a

degree. It's been hard work but worthwhile. I've had amazing support and

hopefully a new business to launch.


"Two of my

children go to Weston College – one as an Apprentice and one studying IT. I've

even had a neighbour decide to go back to studying saying she was inspired by



Srikanth, was celebrating becoming a qualified accountant.


32-year-old mum-of-two arrived in Worle

with her husband from Bangladesh 11 years ago and opened a convenience store.


She said:

"We are giving up the business because my husband has re-trained as an

electrician and I am looking forward to my new career and I've had a wonderful

time at university here."


*James Bessant, has a Foundation Degree

in Applied Computing and is going to top it up with Honours part-time over the

next two years because he is working full time for the NHS as an IT Consultant.


21-year-old of Ashley Road, Clevedon

said: "I started as an Apprentice in IT here and it was lecturers who

encouraged me to do the degree. I am so glad I did, it's been the best thing

and I've got a brilliant job that takes me all over the country."



Share, 21, of Uphill, has an Honours Degree in

Musical Theatre. His dreams of a role in a West End theatre musical are closer

as he's been awarded a coveted place at the world's oldest theatre school -

London's world-famous Italia Conte Academy of Theatre Arts


He said: "It's

my dream come true to go there. I've always wanted to be an actor so to get

this chance is everything."



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.


There are

'taster sessions' taking place for all degree courses the week beginning 7th



For more

information on Weston College telephone 01934 411 411 or go to www.weston.ac.uk




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