A congregation of more than 1000 people crammed into the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, to celebrate the Higher Education successes of South Eastern Regional College (SERC) students on Friday 30 August.
Joined together with family, friends and tutors, the graduation celebrated the efforts and academic achievements of the ‘Class of 2013’ at their appropriately themed ‘Supporting Employability and the Economy’ graduation ceremony.
The ceremony, which was generously sponsored by East Down and Lisburn Education Partnership, honoured 250 graduates and nine local businesses, and featured addresses from Business Studies graduate Stephanie Barr and guest speaker Patricia O’Hagan MBE, CEO Core Systems (NI) Limited.
Ken Webb, Principal and Chief Executive of SERC, commented that the graduation marks an important day in the lives of the hundreds of Higher Education students who have completed their course. He said: “The annual graduation celebration is a highlight in the college calendar; it showcases students’ achievements at Higher Education level in a variety of programme areas. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the College to wish all our graduates every success and hope that their time at SERC will stand by them in their future careers.
“This year’s graduation celebrates our strong links with industry which provides every student with the opportunity to improve their employability skills in an increasingly competitive job market. Employers have informed us that a qualification is not enough anymore and students need to have much more in terms of skills and experience.
“In response we have developed educational partnerships with local companies including Coca Cola, Takker, Montupet, AB Pneumatics, Diageo and Royal Mail to help students gain vital employability skills including problem solving, communication and commercial acumen; whilst at the same time solving real-life business scenarios.”
This year’s guest speaker, Patricia O’Hagan MBE, CEO Core Systems (NI) Limited, praised the hard work and commitment of both students and tutors. Speaking to the congregation Patricia encouraged the students to be the best they can in all that they do.
Following the graduation ceremony nine further awards were made, congratulating students on their enthusiastic approach to life and learning. These awards were established as an opportunity for SERC to honour and reward those students whose commitment to learning and training has set them apart from their peers.
Matthew Price from Downpatrick had double reason to celebrate as he not only completed his HND in Computing and Systems Development, but was also presented with the SERC award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship for his student organiser application which he developed as part of his studies. The innovative and unique concept was also awarded the Dermot Curran Higher Education Young Achievers award earlier in the year.
Matthew said: “I am delighted to have completed the HND course at South Eastern Regional College. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my lecturers at SERC who were very supportive and encouraging.”
Five special awards were also presented to local businesses who have enriched the student learning experience through the provision of industry projects, educational visits and work placement opportunities.
Finally, Stephanie Barr, one of four students to achieve a First Class Business degree, made the inspirational and emotional closing address. After thanking the staff, fellow graduates’ and her family for their support, Stephanie added: “I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the teaching staff at SERC, particularly in the School of Business, Hospitality and Tourism, for their dedication and support to the students graduating here today.”
To find out how SERC can help you ‘get the edge’ call 0845 600 7555, visit www.serc.ac.uk or find us on Facebook, search: South Eastern Regional College.