Hundreds of students from University Centre Bradford College celebrated their hard work and academic achievements at graduation ceremonies at the Life Centre in Bradford.
Family, friends and staff joined the proud students who had completed undergraduate, postgraduate and master’s degrees, HNDs, HNCs, diplomas and other higher education qualifications.
Also sharing the celebrations with the graduates were the college’s four newest Honorary Fellows, Bradford Community Broadcasting Radio founder Mary Dowson, children’s author Robert Swindells, businessman Amjad Pervez and equalities campaigner Saorsa Tweedale.
Day two was the turn of students from the Faculty of Business, Law and Services Management and the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries to don their caps and gowns and file onto the stage to collect their certificates.
Of those students earning bachelor’s degrees, 63 achieved the highest grade – passing with first class honours. At postgraduate level, 24 students achieved the best possible grade – a distinction.
Among the students celebrating first class awards were husband and wife Michael and Christine Hustler.
The couple, from Clayton Heights, scored the top grades in BA (Hons) degrees in Social Nutrition and Health.
Their achievement is all the more remarkable considering that during the course of their degrees the couple got married, had two children, moved house and held down full-time jobs – and in Michael’s case, changed jobs.
Michael, 31, an exercise referral officer, said: “We both started the degree as we thought we had time on our hands and that it would benefit us both in progressing in our respective fields. Little did we know of the huge changes that were ahead.
“At times we both struggled with deadlines looming, however we both knew that giving up wasn’t an option considering we had invested some much time and effort.
“Getting married helped make us stronger by being able to share this experience with each other.
“Christine has done an amazing job considering she has been pregnant for almost all of the time through this course. Maternity leave has helped her with having some extra time to complete her studies and her parents have played a vital role in allowing us to have some time to concentrate on our studies.”
Graduating from a teacher training course was Jamie Cunningham who has completed a career change from civil servant to primary school teacher.
When the dad-of-three was made redundant after two decades in the civil service, spent working mainly for the Department of Work and Pensions, he decided to retrain as a teacher and now teaches eight and nine-year-olds at Ingrow Primary School in Keighley.
“It has been a tough journey but I am really enjoying it,” said the 40-year-old who had to sit his A Levels before starting on his BA (Hons) in Primary Education.
Lorna Dandy, a dog handler who has shown at Crufts and prestigious dog shows around the world, collected a first class law degree after writing a dissertation on animal welfare.
“My dissertation was on the Animal Welfare Act and how it is being abused by animal traffickers,” said the 25-year-old who is keen to use her legal skills in the area of animal welfare.
“I have grown up around dogs. I have showed at Crufts since I was five years old, have shown abroad and judged. I ran a dog-walking and pet-sitting service before I decided to start the degree. It would be good to combine my passion for animals with my legal career.”
Lorna runs Andilorn Show Dogs with partner Andy Shaw, who was also celebrating graduating having achieved a BA (Hons) in Public Services Management which he hopes will help him land a job as a police officer.
Whilst many of her coursemates spent the morning leisurely pampering themselves in preparation for their graduation ceremony, Clementine Chitulangoma was doing a three-hour cleaning shift.
The 51-year-old mum-of-three and grandma of one from Manningham started cleaning Lister Building at 6.30am then at 9.30am dashed across the city to take to the stage at the Life Centre to accept her foundation degree in Hospitality and Travel Management.
“It was a bit of a rush but it had to be done,” said Clementine, who is now work to top-up her qualification to a BA (Hons) degree with a view to eventually working for the Zambian Embassy.
One of the biggest cheers from the audience came when Rebecca Spalding took to the stage to receive her Higher National Certificate in Performing Arts (Performance).
The theatre-loving 22-year-old, who has Down’s syndrome, is a member of Bradford Catholic Players, Debut academy in Shipley and has worked in a front of house role at the Alhambra.
She said: “I really enjoyed my two years at Bradford College, especially the practical sessions and the performances.”
Professional actor and Bradford College tutor Tom Aldersley said: “Rebecca faces many challenges from her Down’s syndrome, yet met all of them head on and was at times our best student. Her attitude and endeavour married with her sense of humour made her a delight to teach. Her performance in the play “RUR” at the end of the last academic year was exceptional.”
Five members of Bradford College staff collected master’s degrees in Visual Arts – John Dey, Sharon Fortune, Ceri Lewis, Sue Meniconi and Kate Shackleton. Damien O’Keeffe, head of the Northern School of Creative Industries, collected a master’s in Education and Gail Hall, the college’s Blended Learning Manager, receiving a master’s in Education in Information Communication Technology.
Anyone interested in studying a degree-level course with University Centre Bradford College can obtain more information by attending an open day on Saturday December 9. Alternatively call 01274 433 333.