The University of Ulster’s graduation ceremonies today moved to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall where they will continue for the remainder of the week.
Over the next three days students who studied at the UU’s Jordanstown and Belfast campuses will receive awards ranging from diplomas to degrees and doctorates.
The Belfast ceremonies got underway this morning when students from the Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment and the Faculty of Social Sciences took to the stage to accept their awards.
At the afternoon ceremony Belfast nurse Kathleen O’Hanlon received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) in recognition of her services to nursing.
She worked at the Royal Victoria Hospital from 1966-1988, and was sister-in-charge of the casualty department for 16 years during the height of the Troubles and served as chairman of the Royal College of Nursing's A&E Forum for nine years and secretary for three.
Among today’s graduates is Fashion and Textiles student Katherine Cahill — who is swapping medieval gowns for graduation gowns today as she takes a break from the film set of multi-million pound blockbuster Your Highness.
Katherine has landed a dream summer job with the costume department of the star-studded movie starring Hollywood actress Natalie Portman and Spiderman heart-throb James Franco.
The medieval farce — expected to pump around £10 million into the Northern Ireland economy — is currently being filmed entirely on location in the Paint Hall in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.
Katherine’s role is that of “breakdown artist” which involves tailoring the costumes and materials to make them look authentically old, in line with the medieval backdrop of the film.
Another of today’s graduates is Joanne McDowell, who is due to be awarded her PhD after seven years of study. But instead of taking a well-earned break she has already set up her next challenge — cycling across Vietnam.
Joanne, from Bangor, plans to raise £3,000 for Belfast-based charity the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), where she works as a research officer.
Meanwhile, model student Gemma Bell completed her Communications, Advertising and Marketing (CAM) degree with flying colours — achieving a first class honours and landing a job with a leading communications agency to boot.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Richhill mum-of-one, whose daughter Alex was born several weeks prematurely in the middle of Gemma’s A-levels.
Despite giving birth between exams, and returning to school while Alex was still in hospital, Gemma got three A grades and secured her place on the University of Ulster’s prestigious CAM course.
In her placement year Gemma secured work with leading UK communications agency Smarts of Holywood and they offered her a job as account executive as soon as she finished her course.