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Around 100 students and their families packed into the Nevis Centre on Friday when West Highland College UHI held its annual graduation ceremony celebrating the success of its full-time students who achieved their qualifications this summer.
Students from all of the college’s 10 centres throughout Skye, Wester Ross and Lochaber were invited to attend and the event began with an academic procession led by Professor Crichton Lang, Principal and Vice Chancellor (interim) of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Greetings from the HRH The Princess Royal, Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands were included in the programme for the event.
Ms Lydia Rohmer, Principal of West Highland College UHI, welcomed the graduating students and their families and urged students to make the most of their achievements and choices.
‘Every single one of you are to be congratulated and all of us, every department and team throughout the college, wish you well as you embark on your future careers or to further study. Your next choices matter – not just to you or your family, but to all of us,’ she told them.
Guest speaker this year was local MSP Kate Forbes who spoke about the impact the growing number of college students is having in communities throughout the west Highland.
During the ceremony, various special awards were presented with
Higher Education Student of the Year going to Sandra Palicka, of Fort William (HNC Social Services).
In addition to being announced as Higher Education Student of the Year, she was also presented with a quaich as winner of the Ina Maciver Award for NHS Highland Integrated Health and Social Care 18/19.
A delighted Ms Palicka, 19, said: ‘I was in complete shock when I had found out I had won these awards – it definitely wasn’t something I expected.
‘The lecturers on this course have been incredibly supportive and it is this support that has increased my passion for working in Social Care. They have also helped me make a firm plan for my career and I am excited to be taking the first steps towards reaching my long-term goals.’
Further Education Student of the Year was Linda Mackenzie, Mallaig (NC Shipping and Maritime Studies). After receiving her award she said: ‘The course has given me the qualifications for my dream job at CalMac – I am now freight assistant and accompany the freight from Mallaig out to Small Isles – weather permitting.’
The Highland Society of London Annual Prize was awarded to Amanda Dailly, from Kinlochleven, after her dissertation was judged to be the best of
the year in the Humanities and Gaelic subject network on a Highlands and Islands theme.
Each year the Culture and Heritage department award a prize to the best graduating student. This year a quaich and certificate were presented to Rory Green from Strontian.
The Special Awards from Industry section saw the Springboard Bowl for Achievement in Professional Cookery go to Benjamin Orr, from Glenuig.
Leona Symes, from Appin, received the Strathmore Bowl for Achievement in Hospitality.
Robert Mattinson, of Glasgow, was the winner of the Mallaig Harbour Authority Award for Student Endeavour on a Maritime Course.
Stephen Hardie, of Fort William, received the CalMac award for student making the most progress.
Maira Keil received the Scottish Qualification Authority Local College Award for a student who has stood out above other students during the year.
She began her studies in 2017 as a student on the Access to Further Education course, then progressed to the NC Child, Health and Social Care Course in 2018.
Highlands and Islands Students’ Association Awards: These give students a chance to thank the academic staff, support staff and students who have inspired and supported them.
Most Inspiring Lecturer: Marina Finlayson, Lecturer – Psychology.
Best Support Staff: Christine Blyth – Learning Support Co-ordinator, Fort William.
Best Class Representative: Solomon Azulay – NC Art and Design Portfolio, Portree.