Cheers and applause could be heard ringing through Bradford city centre as thousands of students celebrated graduating from Bradford College University Centre.
Years of hard work, intense study, laughter, tears and above all determination to forge a successful future paid off as graduates celebrated along with friends and family at the college’s graduation ceremonies at St George’s Hall.
Receiving honorary fellowships at the ceremonies on 26 November 2019 were Usha Parmar, chief executive of Sunrise Radio and a campaigner for women’s rights and issues impacting Asian communities, and John Tempest, founder and director of The Bradford Soup Run, which has supported the city’s homeless and vulnerable since 1984.
In her speech to students, Usha described how she took over the reins of Sunrise Radio in 1990 and fought to have her voice heard and respected in a male-dominated industry. She told the students: “Wherever you’re from, whatever your background, you have the right to command respect. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Keep going. Keep following your dream. And wherever you go, enjoy the ride.”
John described how The Bradford Soup Run began in 1984, when he and two others set out to see how many homeless people there were in Bradford. Since then the charity has helped tens of thousands of people with food, drink, bedding and support. He said: We do our best to help people help themselves and occasionally encourage them with the words of a politician: ‘Never give up. Never give up. Never, Never, Never give up’.”
Guest speaker was former Bradford College student Connor Drake, who now works as a higher education progression officer at the college. Connor started attending Bradford College after leaving school with no GCSEs and, as he says, “no idea” of what he wanted to do. He went on to do a Higher Education Access course before studying at the University of York, where his interest in social issues and people’s experiences of living in poverty increased and he gained a strong desire to fight social injustice. Despite the challenges of commuting from Bradford and initially not feeling he naturally belonged at the university, he had such a powerful impact during his time there that he was invited to speak at the university’s Class of 2019 graduation as a student orator.
In his speech, he said: "I really believe that this College, and the support it gave me, saved my life. It helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my future, but more importantly, it helped me realise who I was; I realised my purpose while I was here.”
Bradford College welcomes thousands of Higher Education students each year to degree-level, teacher training courses and postgraduate courses, making Bradford College one of the largest providers of Higher Education outside the university sector in England and one of the biggest College-based University Centres in the region.
You can find out more about the wide range of programmes available to study at the University Centre at the Bradford College website.