Foundation Degree Applied and Medical Science graduate Jessica McAleese from Castlewellan celebrates the day.Jessica had an extra reason to celebrate as she was also presented with the excellence in commitment to learning in the face of challenge award.

On Friday 1 September, more than 1400 people crammed into the Belfast Waterfront Hall to celebrate the Higher Education successes of South Eastern Regional College (SERC) students.  Joined together with family, friends and tutors, the graduation celebrated the efforts and academic achievements of the ‘Class of 2017’.

The event recognised the hard work and dedication of hundreds of full and part-time students and this year’s theme celebrated ‘developing and supporting careers on an international platform’.

The ceremony honoured over 300 graduates and over ten local businesses, and featured an address from music technology graduate Victoria Montgomery and guest speaker Carol Malone, Constructions Delivery Manager at NIE Networks.

Local students celebrating at the event were:

  • Ciara Quinn from Kilkeel graduated with a HND Health and Social Care

    Classmates Andrea McIteer from Downpatrick and Ciara Quinn from Kilkeel graduate from the HND Health and Social Care course.
  • Jessica McAleese of Castlewellan with a Foundation Degree in applied Medical Science

    Foundation Degree Applied and Medical Science graduate Jessica McAleese from Castlewellan celebrates the day.Jessica had an extra reason to celebrate as she was also presented with the excellence in commitment to learning in the face of challenge award.
  • Conor Laughlin from Castlewellan with a HND in Performing Arts

    HND Performing Arts graduate Conor Laughlin from Castlewellan at the graduation.
  • Donna Trainor of Castlewellan with a HND in Hair and Beauty Management.

    HND Hair and Beauty Management graduate Donna Trainor from Castlewellan had extra reason to celebrate as she was presented with the excellence in commitment to professional development award from guest speaker Caron Malone and Chairman of the Governing Body Deep Sagar.

Ken Webb, Principal and Chief Executive of SERC, commented that ‘Graduation marks an important day in the lives of the hundreds of Higher Education students who have completed their course and I encourage them to never stop learning and striving to better themselves. 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.”

Ken goes on to explain, “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 Montupet Ltd, AB Pneumatics, Graham Construction 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.”

Following the graduation ceremony twenty-six excellence 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.

Jessica McAleese of Castlewellan was presented with individual award for Excellence in Commitment to Learning.

Donna Trainor of Castlewellan received the award for Excellence in Commitment to Professional Development.

Ten 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, Victoria Montgomery, HND music technology graduate made an inspirational and emotional closing address, thanking the staff, fellow graduates’ and her family for their support.

Victoria said she would encourage others to consider SERC as their first option. She explains, “I am delighted to have completed my course at SERC. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my lecturers who were very supportive and encouraging. Thanks to the skills and knowledge gained at SERC I received an unconditional offer to study my chosen subject at university.”

With 97 percent of SERC students’ progressing into employment, self-employment or onto higher level courses on completion of their course, SERC is a great example of how the Further Education sector offers a real alternative to university for intelligent and ambitious people who want to work towards internationally recognised qualifications and a rewarding career.

SERC are still accepting applications for full and part-time courses. For more information please contact the college on 0345 600 7555, visit www.serc.ac.uk or find them on Facebook, search: SERC.