The hard work and achievements of hundreds of University Centre Bradford College students who have completed degrees and other higher education courses have been celebrated.
Students received their awards, which included honours degrees and foundation degrees as well as BTEC Higher National Diplomas and Higher National Certificates, postgraduate qualifications and other higher level awards from professional bodies, at ceremonies held at the Life Centre on Wapping Road in Bradford.
In four ceremonies, spread over two days, awards were handed out to students from the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Social Care and Community Practice, McMillan Faculty of Teacher Education, Faculty of Business Law and Services Management and the Faculty of Bradford School of Art and The Northern School of Creative Industries.
Director of the National Science and Media Museum Jo Quinton-Tulloch and prominent computer game artist Mohammed ‘Iki’ Ikram handed out the certificates on day one with philanthropist Sir James Hill and Born in Bradford creator Professor John Wright presenting the students with their awards on the second day. The four special guests had all been awarded honorary fellowships by the college in 2018.
Among the students celebrating was Theresa Boyle, who achieved a first class honours degree in social work after quitting her job of 30-years to retrain.
Mum Theresa ‘hated’ her job with the Department of Work and Pensions and the welfare reforms of 2015 were the catalyst for her to quit.
She enrolled on the BA (Hons) course at Bradford College and has now landed a job with Kirklees College as an adult social worker.
“It was a tough decision to quit my job but I am so glad I did, doing this degree has changed my life,” she said.
“I started the degree at the same time as my two daughters started degrees at other universities. We called ourselves the Three Degrees.
“I am very lucky to have a supportive husband, He said ‘just go for it’. He knew I was unhappy in my job and backed me all the way.
“It is tough coming back to education after so long but I have loved it. Bradford College was a great choice for me as the small class sizes meant it felt like a big family. Everyone on the course got on well and we have supported each other through.”
He classmate Vincent Gabriel is now working for Gloucestershire County Council as a social worker in children's services.
Theresa Boyle and Vincent Gabriel
Also celebrating was Khuram Hussain, who collected a BA (Hons) degree in Youth and Community Development. He said: “I loved every minute of my course at Bradford College. It was great training and now I have a full-time job with Bradford Council’s Youth Service.”
Ophthalmic Dispensing graduates Katy Smith, Emma Holmes and Michael Richards were also celebrating, having taken time off from their jobs at Specsavers in Rotherham, John Prebble Opticians in Liverpool and Specsavers in Huddersfield respectively.
Katy Smith, Emma Holmes and Michael Richards
Former estate agent Rob Quirk has found himself a new home in education after swapping the property market for the books.
After 10 years as an estate agent, Rob returned to education and completed a BA (Hons) in Primary Education and now works at Kerr Mackie Primary School in Leeds.
“I have no regrets about my decision,” he said.
“It is hard work and not as lucrative but not everything is about money. You have to think about job satisfaction too.
“I had flirted with the idea of teaching before but not done it. It was my wife who finally gave me the push to do it. She said if you don’t do it now you never will. I am very grateful for her support to help me achieve this.”
Someone else who has nailed a career change is Emma Beck. The mum-of-one collected a law degree having quit her job as a nail artist to follow her dream of becoming a lawyer.
“I was bored doing nails - I had been doing it since I was 15 and I had always fancied doing law,” explained Emma, who is now working in family and property law at Mir Solicitors.
“I came to Bradford College intending to enrol on an access course, as I had no A levels. But the tutors had a chat with me and decided I was capable of starting the degree straight away, so that saved me a year of study.
“It has been a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights studying but, it has been worth it.
“I have a little girl. She was six months old when I started and now she is at school. She won’t ever remember me being up all night at the laptop.
“To anyone thinking of changing direction and going back to education I would say go for it.
“I was 30 when I started the degree. I would say it is definitely never too late, whatever your age or situation. If it is what you want, just go for it and see it through. It will be worth it in the end.”
It was a case of the couple that studies together graduates together for Beata and Mohammad Kamran.
The husband and wife team graduated from the same course on the same day, having supported each other to secure their qualifications in Physical Activity, Health and Wellbeing.
The sports-mad couple, who have been together 10 years after meeting while working in Morrison’s, were cheered on by their three children, aged 4, 6 and 8.
Mohammed Nohman collected his certificate for a BA (Hons) Public Services, having progressed onto the degree course after completing the Level 3 Public Services course at Bradford College.
"I have loved my time at Bradford College, which is why I stayed on to do my degree after studying at FE level," said Nohman, who has secured a job with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs office in Leeds.
Collecting a HND in Performing Arts was Josi Falvius-Warner, Josi, who is currently acting as second assistant to director Ben Occhipinti'Bolton Octagon Theatre production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
And Thandiwe Eagleton received her BA (Hons) Fashion degree having come to study to inspire her children.
"I wanted to be a role model for my kids," she said.
"I loved the course. The tutors were very supportive and the facilities great - one of the best in the country for fashion I would say."
University Centre Bradford College is holding an open event on Saturday, December 8. Anyone interested in starting a degree-level course is invited to come and chat to tutors about the courses on offer, entry requirements, support and facilities.