The outstanding achievements of over 134 students from University Centre St Helens were celebrated on Saturday 16th November 2019, when family, friends, academic staff and honoured guests, including the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens, Mayor of Knowsley, Chief Executive of St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Ann Marr, and Chairman of St Helens RLFC, Eamonn McManus, came together for the annual Graduation Ceremony.
Taking place in the heart of the town at St Helens Parish Church, proud graduands processed through the town centre led by the sounds of the Parr Band, Valley Brass Band and Town Crier, bringing Saturday morning shoppers to a standstill, whilst they applauded the graduands on their success.
Monica Box, Principal of SK College Group, opened proceedings with her address, before Chief Executive of St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Ann Marr, took to the stage, offering inspirational advice to the graduands.
Ann, who started her career as a Junior Clerk before moving her way up the ranks with the NHS, serving as Chief Executive for the past 16 years, told students, “you will find your own way – you have to be yourself and play to your own strengths” and to “fly high and be all that you are meant to be.”
A second address, from St Helens born Chairman, of both St Helens RLFC and the St Helens Economy Board, Eamonn McManus, provided further inspiration and motivation, as Eamonn told graduands, “a big wide world, that is full of opportunity and full of excitement, lies ahead.”
Eamonn also reminded graduands to be proud of their roots, detailing, “St Helens as a town has always produced people that have taken advantage of opportunity. People who were born here, educated here and who were always proud to say they were from St Helens.”
Concluding his address, Eamonn said, “stand on your own two feet, never take a backward step and make sure nobody tells you, you cannot succeed when the opportunity arises”.
A highlight of the ceremony, was an address by current St Helens Rotary Club President, Derek Downey. Each year, St Helens Rotary Club show their support for University Centre St Helens by presenting the Rotary Club Award to a graduate who has demonstrated dedication and commitment in overcoming adversity, to obtain their qualification.
This year’s award was presented to BA (Hons) Social Policy, Health and Housing graduate, Cathy Norton. During her degree, Cathy managed to find the time to study, alongside working full-time, juggling family life and managing her mental health condition. During what has been an extremely challenging time for Cathy, her determination and generosity towards others has been admirable. Considering the barriers she has faced, she has always remained a positive pillar of support to others around her.
The day concluded with a canapé reception back at University Centre St Helens. Guests were entertained by saxophone player, Sophia, whilst catering and hospitality students from St Helens College, were given the invaluable experience of providing service at a busy, high level event.
Along with excellent industry links, University Centre St Helens boasts partnerships with validating universities across the region, including the University of Chester, the University of Central Lancashire and Liverpool John Moores University.
Those inspired by this year’s graduates, considering a career change or looking for career progression, can apply now for 2020 entry on a range of full and part-time degree courses, including flexible evening study. Visit uc.sthelens.ac.uk for further information.