Students enjoy first graduation day at North West College
Over 400 students were to receive certificates and diplomas today at the inaugural graduations of the North West Regional College.
The higher education ceremony, being held in the Millennium Forum, Derry City, will acknowledge the achievements of students from the former North West Institute and Limavady College during the previous academic year.
One student enjoying notable success is Jennifer McLaughlin, who was due to collect her Certificate of Achievement following completion of the Access Diploma in Foundation Studies programme.
Jennifer, from Limavady, has been a fantastic example to those considering further education opportunities, after returning to education following a 20-year absence.
Family commitments meant Jennifer had little opportunity to achieve her career ambition of becoming a nurse.
But her desire to succeed remained and when the time was right, she decided to go for it.
Now, 22 years on, she just hasn't looked back.
She first enrolled on the HNC in Counselling programme at the college's Limavady campus, and after graduating from this course in 2004, felt she had developed the desire for more successful study.
Jennifer undertook the Access Diploma course and this provided her with a clear progression route to a Degree in Nursing. She explained: "These opportunities at the college gave me the self-confidence, study skills, and discipline that I required in order to be successful.
"I was so well prepared for degree study after completing these courses, and I am thankful to the staff and tutors at the College who made it possible."
Jennifer is a student on the BSc Hons Degree in Nursing at the University of Ulster and is currently enjoying her placement year on the surgical ward in Causeway Hospital.
"Attending this college provided me with the perfect grounding for my future career ambitions," she said.
"My advice to others is simply just to go for it. I look forward to completing my degree and hopefully one day can return to Limavady as a community nurse."
The graduation ceremony saw awards being presented to students in a number of areas, including subjects at Foundation Degree and HND level, and the presentation of special individual awards to those students who made an outstanding contribution during the year.
North West Regional College was established at the beginning of August, bringing together Limavady College and North West Institute to create a larger, stronger area-based college to provide high quality education and training to all the people of the North West.
Ahead of the ceremony, college director Seamus Murphy said the college was committed to meeting the lifelong learning needs of the community and commended the achievements of students receiving awards.
"North West Regional College is about providing quality education and training for all, and prides itself on offering those programmes which address the needs of our community," he said.
"Our courses lead to recognised vocational qualifications, giving people the opportunity to acquire new skills, thus boosting their employability and enhancing the local economy. I warmly congratulate all winners at today's ceremony."
Students at the college undertake either full-time or part-time study programmes in a range of subject areas. From Business to Building, Computing to Care, and Media to Management, the College offers an extensive portfolio of programmes for school leavers, mature students, professionals and the unemployed.