Triumphant cheers and tears of joy filled Truro Cathedral on Friday evening as Truro and Penwith College celebrated its graduating University Level students.
Around 450 graduates achieved Higher Education certificates with the College this year and Truro Cathedral provided the perfect setting for them to celebrate their achievements with friends and family.
The ceremony opened with an address from Kate Kennally Chief Executive of Cornwall Council, who acknowledged the importance of University level qualifications being delivered locally, and that she hoped many of the graduates would take up skilled roles within the County.
Among those receiving their scrolls was a selection of students whose achievements were specially recognised.
Simon Payne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Plymouth University, partners of the College’s University provision, was in attendance for the conferment of the Academic Partnerships Prize and the Education Cup.
Lee Burgess, from Padstow, graduated with a First from the BA (Hons) Education and Training degree and won the top Academic Partnerships Prize.
Cheryl Mewton, the Director of Studies at Truro and Penwith College, said: “Lee Burgess joined Truro and Penwith College by completing an Access to HE programme; a course designed for adults without traditional qualifications to gain entry to university-level courses. Lee proved himself an exceptionally able and dedicated student, progressing to FdA Early Childhood Education, and then to our full BA in Education and Training. As well as achieving a first class honours degree, Lee’s particular interest and research in supporting children with Special Educational Needs resulted in him developing a literacy strategy, that is currently in development with a publisher”.
“Lee’s outstanding academic achievements at the college are all the more impressive given the unstinting support he provided to own family and children during his studies, whom he helped through a range of very difficult circumstances. Despite coming from a non-traditional background, overcoming personal adversity, and continuing to devote time to running his own business, Lee is an excellent example of what can be achieved through dedication, hard work and a passion for higher level study. Lee is now in a strong position to continue with his ambition to become a primary school teacher: we wish him the very best for the future, and are confident we can look forward to hearing of his future success!”
Lee said he felt “surprised and proud”.
“I’ve worked hard, but I genuinely can’t believe I’ve won, out of all the hundreds of amazing graduates here,” he continued.
“I did it for my kids, and my wife has been the bedrock, without her help in all my others areas of life, I’d never have been able to do the degree. I have to thank the people on the courses, lecturers, guest speakers, everyone. I now plan to be an Early Years Primary School teacher.”
The Education Cup was won by Andy Foulks, from Penzance, for outstanding contribution to the field of Education.
Andy, who graduated from his Certificate in Education on the night, is the Engineering Trainer and Coordinator at Truro and Penwith College, and has been responsible for the huge growth and success of Engineering Apprenticeships at the College over recent years.
Andy said “it’s great to be recognised for the Apprenticeship programmes in Engineering and other trade skills at the College”.
“It’s important that it is well-known that the College is not just good for academic subjects, but it allows learners to achieve in all areas—including Apprenticeships. We started with seven Apprentices two years ago, and now have over 40, in various engineering skills areas.”
Cheryl Mewton, on awarding the prize, said “by his own admission, Andy did not see himself as an ‘academic’, but rose to meet the challenges of written coursework”.
“Andy embarked on the two-year part-time Certificate in Education in 2014, having recently joined the College’s Engineering Department,” she explained.
“He brought with him a wealth of experience from the international precision engineering industry, developing a successful Apprenticeship scheme and fostering close links with local employers. By the end of the course, Andy’s portfolio was clear testament to his professional commitment to his learners and their futures. Through inspirational teaching, humour, and energy, Andy motivates his learners to achieve their best: not only in the College, but in the workplace and beyond.”
Truro and Penwith College Principal David Walrond said that there are now a large number of university-level courses leading to Degree, Foundation Degree, HND and other qualifications at the College.
“The number of Higher Education students is continuing to grow and the College is introducing new course to the already wide range of subjects on offer, both full- and part-time,” he added.
Once the awards were distributed, attendees continued the celebrations over drinks and canapés.
Those interested in University level study should contact the College’s University Centre on 01872 267122 or speak to course leaders at one of the College Open Events.