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York College celebrates student achievement at first graduation ceremony in two years

FORMER students of York College University Centre gathered in York Minster on April 28 for graduation ceremonies postponed for up to two years due to the Covid pandemic.

More than 150 graduates, from 10 areas of study, made their way from Museum Gardens to York Minster where they each received recognition from York College Chief Executive and Principal Lee Probert, before an audience of VIP visitors, family and friends.

The event was York College’s first in-person graduation ceremony since 2019 and welcomed students who finished their courses in 2020 and 2021.

Former Manor School pupil, Luke Walker, 23, gained a BA Hons in Graphic Design. He said: “I finished in July 2021. The pandemic broke out in my first year. I’m deaf so studying from home was difficult at first but I got used to it.

“I never thought I’d get a day like this – I’d written off a graduation ceremony. In fact I never thought I’d get my degree, but here I am.”

Luke, who has since found employment with a Harrogate graphic design company, was also recognised at the ceremony as Most Determined Student in York College’s accompanying Special Awards.

Graduate Aniqah Rahman, 21, was at the Minster with her family, to celebrate her BA Hons in Media Make-up. She said she hopes to work as a freelancer in the media make-up industry and has already worked on the Channel Four series Ackley Bridge.

“It feels so good to finally graduate,” she said. “I’m actually quite nervous after all this time. It’s strange to see people in person again rather than on Zoom meetings.”

Fellow Media Make-up graduate, Helen Pritchard, 38, said: “We all went home one day in March 2020 and we said ‘see you next week’ and I haven’t seen some of them again until today. The tutors promised us we would have a graduation and we have. The tutors have been fantastic.”

Ben Hogarth, 30, from Scarborough, was at the Minster to receive his HNC in Construction and the Built Environment. He said his studies seemed a long time ago but it was ‘great to catch up with everybody’.

College Chief Executive and Principal, Lee Probert said the ceremony was a poignant moment for everyone.

“It’s hard to overstate the amount of dedication, flexibility and hard work which these students displayed throughout the pandemic and ensuing lockdown, to ensure the successes they are deservedly celebrating today,” he said.

“It’s not just a proud moment for York College and the families of our graduates, but also a moment to reflect on the incredible efforts our tutors and staff made throughout a prolonged and difficult time for further and higher education.

“It’s a real honour to be here today to celebrate with them all.”

Sarah Barbacane, Director of Curriculum, added: “It’s so good to finally see these students getting their big day.

“A graduation ceremony is not only about achievement, but also new beginnings and the anticipation of exciting careers or further learning. Because the students here today have had to wait a long time for their graduation, many of them have already embarked on the next steps in their lives and it’s great to catch-up and hear their stories.

“I’m genuinely thrilled for them all.”

Guest speaker at the Minster on Thursday was Darin Grey, Principal Engineer at Network Rail and Assistant Head (Reserves) at the Ministry of Defence.

VIP guests were Professor Karen Bryan, Vice Chancellor at York St John University;

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of York, Reverend Councillor Chris Cullwick and his Consort, Joy Cullwick; Michael Lupton, director of Michael Lupton Associates in York; and Richard Knight, Head of Skills and Industry Engagement at Screen Yorkshire.

As well as the graduation, the day saw six students receive Special Awards for their commitment to York College’s values, throughout their studies. The awards were sponsored by York Minster, Michael Lupton Associates and BDW Trading (Barratt Developments).

York Colleges graduation ceremony for 2022 will take place on September 22, in York Minster.

For more information on higher education courses at York College, click here