Students honoured at prestigious cathedral ceremony
- Credit: Photo: Keith Mindham Photography
Hundreds of students were celebrated at the weekend in the annual graduation ceremony held by the University of Suffolk at West Suffolk College.
Family, friends and civic leaders joined proud students who received their degrees during a prestigious ceremony at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Saturday.
The event started with a procession through the Abbey Gardens to the cathedral before the traditional graduation ceremony and celebration afterwards.
Addressing students at the ceremony, Dr Nikos Savvas, college principal, said: “You are all here today, because you have risen to the occasion and put yourself out there.
“Many of you have excelled far beyond that - collecting numerous awards, accolades, and prizes at a whole host of competitions across the nation and landing jobs with the best of the best.
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“Today we are celebrating our class of 2018, which saw 300 students graduate with degrees, 36 of those with first class honours degrees and a further 16 students who achieved distinctions in their foundation degrees.
“We all know that graduating is a tremendous achievement. It is the result of innumerable hours of study, sacrifice, persistence, doubt and ultimate perseverance.
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“It has been an honour and a privilege to share in your celebrations today.”
At the ceremony, there were also 13 different prizes awarded to outstanding students which were sponsored by businesses and organisations across the region including Glasswells, Warren Services and Lloyds Bank.
Richard Carter MBE, a well-loved and respected former chairman of the board of governors at West Suffolk College, was given an honorary degree of doctor of the university.
Charity campaigner Gina Long MBE was given an honorary fellow of the University of Suffolk.
Mrs Long, founder of the GeeWizz Charity, said: “It is with overwhelming gratitude that I say a heartfelt thank you for my much-appreciated honorary fellowship.
“I was hugely privileged to accept this at the same time as the Class of 2018 graduates have achieved something extraordinary.
“I would like to congratulate them all on their fantastic success.”
Ric Groves – winner of the Innovation in Graphic and Communication Design Award
Former radio DJ Ric Groves’ career path has taken a few twists and turns before starting his new business, Groves Design, on the back of his first class honours degree in graphics and communication design.
He was also a prize-winner of Saturday’s graduation ceremony after being named the winner of the Innovation in Graphic and Communication Design award.
Ric was nominated after excelling on the course and also having his work recognised in the YCN Orchard Pig cider competition.
Ric, 43, who lives near Bury St Edmunds, said: “I spent 12 years on Vibe and Kiss FM, picking up awards and DJing around the world.
“I also owned the So Bar and Gym Bar in Bury. But when I sold them, to be brutally honest, I didn’t really know what to do next.
“I took some online career assessments and they kept coming up with design and marketing. The University of Suffolk was right because of location but I also knew they were getting some really good results.
“It was a bit odd going back to full-time education as I was never that academic at school. But I knew I needed to if I wanted to start a new career and the whole thing was a really positive experience.”
Vicki Longdon – winner of the Finance Cup
Vicki Longdon had triple reason to celebrate after graduating, being named a prizewinner – and giving birth to her son George just weeks after her final exam.
Vicki achieved an Association of Accounting Technicians Level 4 qualification and has now started her own home-based bookkeeping business.
The 33-year-old, who lives in Dedham, was chosen as the winner of the Finance Cup by the business, enterprise and tourism department after showing “an immense amount of resilience and determination to achieve her goals”.
She wanted to dedicate her award to tutor Rosario Hodgson who was an “inspirational tutor and fantastic person” who sadly passed away after a very short illness while Vicki was studying at the university. .
Vicki added: “I wanted to start a career working from home and I am delighted that this qualification has enabled me to start Vicki Longdon Bookkeeping Services.
“I am delighted with my qualification and the results in my exams.”
Thomas Curran – winner of the Fornham Business Court Award
Having been away for a year at Nottingham Trent University, Thomas Curran decided to head back home to familiar territory.
After enjoying his studies at West Suffolk College before moving to Nottingham, he opted to return to Suffolk join the University of Suffolk on a business management degree course.
He didn’t look back – earning a 2:1 and being named the winner of the Fornham Business Court Award in recognition to a student who has shown outstanding commitment and determination within the school of business, management and tourism studies.
Thomas, 22, who is now a trainee quantity surveyor at the Bury St Edmunds-based Troy Group, said: “I wasn’t enjoying Nottingham Trent academically, but I knew as soon as I started at the University of Suffolk that I had made the right decision.
“I went from class sizes of hundreds down to about 15 to 20. It was great to experience that level of dedicated education.”