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A Day to Remember – Calderdale College Graduation 2014

1st October 2014

Last weekend, Calderdale College celebrated their annual Professional Graduation Ceremony at the Victoria Theatre, Halifax. Graduates, staff and members of the local community came together to honour graduates and Inspire Award winners alike for their educational achievements and commitment to the local community.

The day started with a graduation procession through the town, led by the Band of the Boys' Brigade and the Girls' Brigade, Inspire Award winner - Katie Fawcett, VIPs, graduates and College staff.

Over 145 students have graduated from a Higher Education or professional qualification (level 4 or above) during the 2013/14 academic year. They have studied a variety of courses including; Professional Graduate Certificate in Education, Sound & Music Technology, Architecture Interior Design, Performing Arts, Health & Social Care, Public Services, Computing and Systems Development, Sports Coaching and Business Studies. 

Each year Calderdale College tutors nominate their students for a Higher Education Prize for their dedication, endeavour and positive attitude during their studies at the College.

Winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award, Foundation in Early Years graduate, Lakbinder Singh, 34, from Huddersfield commented: “I was working in a warehouse and felt like I was at a dead-end and then an opportunity came along to work in a nursery setting, alongside that I was given the opportunity to gain some qualifications and I have spent the last six years completing my Level 2, Level 3, my GCSE maths and English and my Foundation degree at Calderdale College. It has been hard work, but I have achieved a lot.

“It is an achievement for me to have even got to this stage in my life, considering I had no qualifications and only one GCSE in Drama when I left school. My foundation degree has opened so many doors and allowed me to tap into different fields and if I want to top up my degree I could specialise in Early Years at the College so I can teach or Health and Social Care and go down the Social Worker route.

“It feels like something is missing; now that I am no longer at the College It feels like I have lost a limb. I miss the people, the tutors, the warm friendly environment and the fantastic supportive advice.”

Winner of Inspirational Student Award, Architectural Interior Design graduate, Clare Aspinall, from Littleborough has just set up her own interior design business - Aspinall Interiors. When asked about her time at Calderdale College she said: “I lost my husband and I am severely dyslexic and have had to do something about it and find a career and I have done it! It has been fabulous learning something new. I would definitely recommend the course; it is very relaxed and it is a lovely atmosphere, being a more mature student has been brilliant. My tutor has been fabulous and I have had a lot of help with my dyslexia.”

When asked what winning a Higher Education prize meant to her she said: “It is such an achievement and it has encouraged me to do more. I can’t believe it, I am overwhelmed. It is very emotional, but I am really honoured. I think I have a thirst for learning.”

Winner of the Early Years Academic Achievement Award, Lora Clark, Foundation Degree in Early Years graduate & member of staff at the College, 35, from Halifax has just started her BA Honours Top up degree and her ultimate goal is to teach Childcare. When asked about her time at Calderdale College she said: “I have really enjoyed my last three years and I can’t believe it has gone so fast! The course was really interesting and the knowledge that you gain stands you in good stead and I would recommend it to anybody.”

When asked what winning the Route Prize meant to her she said: “I am in shock; I can’t believe I have won a Higher Education Prize. I am so happy that all the hard work and effort I have put in has paid off.”

The Inspire Awards focus on the benefits that study through higher education can provide. Not only can higher education benefit individuals, it can also benefit employers and make a positive impact on the local community. Calderdale College is the leading provider of higher education courses in Calderdale and gives students a flexible, rewarding, and vocational path to study.

Inspire Award winner and former College student, Katie Fawcett, Chair of Trustees for HappyDays UK said: “I feel very humbled to be given the award and believe it to be recognition of the amazing and inspirational work which has been done by a lot of people, not just myself, and I hope it will inspire people to work together.”

When asked about her time at Calderdale College she said: “I studied a Foundation Degree in Art at the College and it was the best year of my education, the tutors were amazing and the people who were on the course were so unique and we had such a close bond. My time at Calderdale College was just an amazing time where were given that freedom to really explore. In a year where you are trying to find out who you are at 18 it was really beneficial. By the time I went to university I was confident enough to choose and change things and not feel like I was being restricted.”

Katie imparted some final words of advice: “Never stop learning, never stop listening and don’t give up, keep persevering and expect to be changed because the world changes you.”

Since leaving university Katie has been involved in developing community outreach projects.  Her work began when she got involved with the St Augustine's Centre Halifax, working with individuals and families that were seeking asylum here in the UK. Recognising there was no real support for them in Calderdale, Katie helped set up a support centre and a programme of activities that helped ease integration for both the individual and the host communities. After seeing the injustice that refugees suffer both here and in their counties of origin, her work progressed into raising awareness of the truth behind asylum. One such area was destitution and in 2008 she steered a group which set up the Food & Support Drop-In, based at the Ebenezer Centre Halifax, which to date has given out over 30,000 food parcels and has led to numerous projects being established, working specifically with extremely vulnerable individuals and homelessness.

Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment, Sally Wainwright was unable to attend on the day, but will be visiting the College soon to collect the award.

Inspire Award winner, Sally Wainwright, born in Huddersfield is a BAFTA- nominated television writer, producer and actress whose career has spanned over 40 years. From 1972 Sally has written for renowned soap operas including Emmerdale, Coronation Street and The Archers. In 2012 Sally wrote ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ which won best drama series at the 2013 Bafta Awards. Further success has included ‘Writer of the Year’ awarded by the Royal Television Society for ‘Unforgiven’ in 2009. Her most recent work, ‘Happy Valley’, which is based in and around Halifax, has been highly successful with ratings of eight million viewers a week throughout the two series.

The Mayor of Calderdale, Councillor Patricia Allen, former student at the College said: “I am so proud to have been part of the College and it is absolutely wonderful to see all the students’ achievements being recognised today.”

The Mayor imparted some final words of advice to the College’s graduates: “Make the most of your qualifications; you have worked hard enough for them so just give it all you have got.”

In March, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) confirmed the quality and standards of provision at Calderdale College following its review of the institution and the quality of student learning opportunities on the College’s degree courses. The QAA also recognised the tailored support provided to students at the College as good practice.

In August, Calderdale College came 12th in the 2014 National Student Survey league tables with 93% of their higher education students being satisfied with their course.

If you are interested in studying a higher education course at Calderdale’s Higher Education Centre please call 01422 399316.

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