For the first time, Warwickshire College Group graduates celebrated at two ceremonies at the Royal Spa Centre in Leamington on Friday 6 November.
The rising number of students achieving their degrees meant that the morning ceremony was reserved for graduands from engineering, early years, education, social care and counselling. In the afternoon, students from business, events, hairdressing management, games art, film, computing, animal science, equine and veterinary nursing took centre stage.
The graduands, who have spent the past few years studying at the Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick Trident, Rugby, Henley-in-Arden, Pershore and Moreton Morrell Colleges, donned their gowns, hoods and mortar boards at the Town Hall before moving with family and friends to their graduation ceremony at the Royal Spa Centre.
Guest of honour and speaker at the ceremonies was Jake Meyer, a world record breaking mountaineer and adventurer whose speech about climbing Mount Everest aged only 21 entertained and inspired the graduands and guests alike. Jake then congratulated all the graduates before they were presented with their certificates by Warwickshire College Group Principal and CEO, Angela Joyce.
Jake said, “I love opportunities like this – it’s an honour and a privilege to be part of the graduates’ day of celebration for their achievements.
“I know the feeling of being on top of the world, and today these graduates should be feeling on top of the world too. I hope they don’t forget the amount of hard work, effort and tenacity it has taken for them to get here.”
Angela Joyce, Group Principal and CEO of Warwickshire College Group said, “This is truly a day of celebration for everyone – not just for our graduates, but for parents, family, friends, employers and also, of course, for the college and our staff.
“Warwickshire College Group has been steadily increasing our HE provision over a number of years, so much so that this is the first year we have had to have two ceremonies to ensure all our graduands and their families could fit in the auditorium comfortably. The college group now has over 1,100 higher education students and 80 degree pathways, with plans for new degree pathways next year and and beyond. And with the grant of Foundation Degree Awarding Powers, this September we were delighted to welcome our first cohort of students who will be awarded Warwickshire College Foundation Degrees when they complete their courses.
“For the college and all of our staff, today’s celebration is what everyone works towards – the success of our students and helping each one reach their potential. We are very proud of all of our graduates today.”
Aisling Armstrong, 29 from Rugby, was celebrating achieving her BA (Hons) Early Years Care and Education and gave the vote of thanks at the ceremony on behalf of all the graduands, ending with a quote from Dr Seuss. Aisling said, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the college and tutors – they’ve helped me so much. I’ve worked really hard to achieve this, studying part-time while working, but choosing a vocational degree has meant it’s all directly relevant to my career. I’m really excited today.”
Milos Novak, 23 from Leicester was celebrating achieving his BA (Hons) Business, Strategy and Management at Royal Leamington Spa College. He also scooped an extra award, saying, “It was a total surprise when I opened the programme and saw I had won the tutor’s prize. I’m really happy today, maybe a bit nervous, but excited – I’m looking to apply for a graduate scheme so hopefully the future’s bright for me.”
Martin Mpala from Shipston-upon-Stour was able to celebrate his FdA Social Care and Community Studies with his mum who had flown in from Zimbabwe. He said, “I’m feeling really happy today and it’s lovely to have my mum and sister here to share in it. I’m carrying on with another year of study to achieve my degree as I want to go into social work.”
Oliver Whinmill, 22 from Northend, was one of the graduands achieving a Foundation Degree in Engineering. He said, “I’m feeling a bit nervous today but happy too. I did my degree as part of the apprenticeship with Jaguar Land Rover and I’m now in a full-time role as a Material Controller.”
Lisa Leach from Nuneaton gained a BA (Hons) Early Years Care and Education. Lisa decided on a career change after having her own children and working as a teaching assistant, and wants to go on to be a primary school teacher. She said, “Today is a bit overwhelming, but in a good way. It has been tough, juggling studying with work and family commitments, but with the support of my family and friends on the course, and the tutors, I can now say ‘I’m 40 and I’ve finally got it!’.”
Warwickshire College Group offers over higher education courses in a wide range of subjects, and through full time, part-time and distance-learning. For more information, go to www.warwickshire.ac.uk.