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Business & Economy

Scores of students celebrate at prestigious graduation ceremony

Ambitious college graduates are set to embark on their dream careers following a prestigious graduation ceremony at Middlesbrough’s historic Town Hall.

170 higher education students from Middlesbrough College celebrated with friends and family as they picked up university level qualifications in a range of subjects, including music, teaching, engineering and travel.

Among those graduating was 34-year-old single mum Amy Davison.

The self-employed childcare provider from Hartlepool had been out of education for more than a decade and worked as a teaching assistant for nine years, before setting up her own business.

With ambitious plans to progress in her career, Amy enrolled onto a Youth, Childhood and Community Studies degree at the College and scooped an impressive 2:1, while balancing her studies alongside her job.

She said: “I love what I do but I knew there was more out there for me. I turned 30 and realised it wasn’t too late to reach my full potential. The week of my 30th birthday, I called the College to enrol, and I’ve never looked back.”

Inspired by her time at the College, Amy hopes to gain a teaching qualification and go on to inspire other adults to fulfil their ambitions.

She added: “There is something so rewarding about working in adult education – you get so much back, and people really want to be there, not just because they have to be.

“They are there because they’ve chosen to improve their career or do something for themselves – just like I did. My tutors at the College were so supportive and genuinely cared about my success. I hope I can one day offer the same support and help someone into their dream career.”

Other graduates included aspiring music producer Chris Nottingham from Middlesbrough.

The 26-year-old, who goes by stage name ‘Sir Racha’, founded the ‘Teesside Dub Club’ in 2019, a sound system event aimed at bringing together the local community.

Chris, whose mixes have been played across the globe – including in France, Mexico, Peru and Japan – enrolled on an Access to Music course at Middlesbrough College before progressing on to a degree level qualification in Sound and Music Technology.

Upon picking up his 2:1 degree, he said: “I’ve always loved music – I put my first gig on when I was 15 and have played in bands and self-produced ever since.

“I originally studied music performance and was going to go to university, but it wasn’t the right time. I’d worked in kitchens ever since but was determined to get a degree and make a name for myself in the industry.

“The course was fantastic and taught me marketing and business skills alongside the technical side of the industry. My tutors helped me think about how I market myself as a producer and how I present myself professionally. I feel like they’ve helped my career take off and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

Jennifer Joyce from Redcar also praised College tutors who helped her achieve a Certificate in Higher Education in Health Wellbeing and Social Care, despite going into labour just weeks before her final assignments were due.

The 27-year-old, who worked in the care sector from age 18, found out she was pregnant just as she enrolled at the College. And following a difficult pregnancy and an emergency C section, she ended up in hospital for a further two weeks after developing sepsis.

She said: “It was an incredibly stressful time, but my tutors couldn’t have been more supportive. They helped me get an extension and I was able to finish my assignments at home, with my new-born daughter by my side.

“I still can’t quite believe I managed to pull it off but I’m so proud of myself.”

Jennifer’s mum and daughter were among hundreds of guests who attended the ceremony at the Town Hall, to watch their loved ones graduate.

The university level qualifications awarded at the ceremony included Foundation Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees, Masters Degrees, Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, with most validated by the Open University and Pearson Education, with some awards validated by Teesside University.

As well as expert teaching and first-class facilities, Middlesbrough College delivers jobs-focused, flexible, affordable learning that equips students with the skills and knowledge that employers need. And the student experience is different from a traditional university, with smaller class sizes meaning more contact time with tutors.

Many of the higher education programmes at the Ofsted-rated Good College are available to study on a full and part-time basis too, giving students the flexibility to study around their work and home life commitments.

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