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Graduates celebrate fantastic achievements at grand ceremony

University Centre South Devon, part of South Devon College, celebrated the achievements of its degree students at a joint ceremony held at Torquay’s Grand Hotel.

Across three ceremonies, 600 graduates and their guests, celebrated their success.

Principal and CEO Laurence Frewin said: “I want to say how proud I am at the incredible resilience and hard work you have all shown, your commitment to your studies and supporting your peers in what has been an unprecedented time with many individual challenges for you all to face and overcome.”

These sentiments were echoed by BSc (Hons) Coaching (Sports Performance and Development) graduate, Claire Knight who gave the student vote of thanks. She acknowledged how the pandemic had affected everyone’s lives.

“Many of us had our own battles to fight while studying for their degree, some of you had to take on new jobs, or home school children and some had to reinvent their own businesses to keep them afloat, But one thing I can say about the class of 2022 although times were unsettling and seemed impossible, we never gave up.

“A massive reason we never gave up and why we are graduating today is because of our hard working, inspirational dedicated lecturers at University Centre South Devon and South Devon College, and wellbeing staff who all worked tirelessly to support us. They also had the same issues during this time having to react to a different way of working. You all got us through it and we are grateful for your support and brilliance.”

As well as collecting their degrees, a student from each of the three ceremonies were awarded prizes, by the staff at the University of Plymouth, and UCSD.  

The winner of the UCSD Employability Prize, Sophie Braybrook, studied BA (Hons) Child Development and Educationawarded by the University of Plymouth. Sophie gained a work placement at a local school as well as caring for her three nieces. Once schools closed due to Covid Sophie home schooled the girls and was able to use her studies and work placement experience to plan activities.

“I didn’t expect to win the prize and it really means a lot as it acknowledges that I had a lot going on,” said Sophie.

“University was always there to support me and recorded lessons for me and made sure that I always had the time to do my work.”

Another prize winner is Chelsea Taylor. She won the University of Plymouth Academic Partnership. Chelsea studied FdA History with English.

Chelsea took her A levels at South Devon College before progressing into Higher Education. During her degree she took on different roles such as student ambassador and she also volunteered for the National Trust. Chelsea also achieved her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and now works for English Heritage.

“We got to know people in the history sector locally by going on trips to make it easier to find jobs later in life”.

Chelsea is now taking a year out to pursue an apprenticeship in management with English Heritage and then hopes to continue her studies to achieve a BA degree and a Masters in site management.

“I’d like to continue my career with English Heritage, managing a site or perhaps moving into museum curation.” 

The second winner of this year’s UCSD Employability Prize is Leigh Bower who studied the Level 5 Coaching Professional Apprenticeship. 

Chantelle Mashiter, Head of Curriculum, Business, Law and Professional, said: “Leigh has been an outstanding student, not only in her own studies, but also in the support she offered her cohort. She gave up a lot of time to support her peers and continues to do so for those on programme. She worked tirelessly to achieve her qualification, even though working full time and taking on a new job role. The passion she showed in her studies quickly emanated in her practice and her coaching went from strength to strength. Staff at UCSD could not be prouder of her achievement and the passion, enthusiasm and dedication she demonstrated to get here.”

Mum of four, Victoria Wilding, started her journey four years ago when she couldn’t get help for her autistic daughter. She decided to apply for a Level 2 Understanding Autism and then went on to Level 3 before deciding to do a Psychology and Sociology Foundation degree.

“I found the experience of studying at UCSD amazing. If you were to tell me ten years ago that I was getting a degree today I’d have laughed. I hated high school and since I’ve come back to higher education I can’t get enough.

I chose UCSD as it’s small and they have one of the best wellbeing teams always on hand.I would like to be the person who changes the lives of special education needs children for the better. This is my passion.” 

Another person with a passion to help his local area has been awarded an Inaugural Honorary Fellowship of South Devon College. 

Jim Parker has been recognised for his work in improving opportunities for people living and working in Torbay.

Principal Laurence Frewin said; “With a genuine belief in the potential of Torbay, Jim is a driving force of change within the Torbay community and campaigns relentlessly to improve our area and create opportunities for all through his role as Partnership Chair of the Torbay Together Partnership.

Now the Torbay Place Leadership Board, this strategic task force brings together leaders from the private, public and community sectors to fight with one voice Torbay’s corner in the corridors of power, including ministers at Westminster.  

Jim recognises the vital role of the South Devon College as an anchor institution in bringing about positive change within the community, and always involves us in his initiatives and campaigns, providing important opportunities for the college to engage with our community. In all of his work, Jim perfectly embodies all of the College’s values: aspiration, inclusion, innovation, support and progress.” 

Laurence Frewin acknowledged all the graduate’s hard work and wished them well for their future.

“So, turning to the successful Graduates today, I would now like to address you and add a huge congratulations on behalf of all staff at UCSD; everyone has enjoyed working with you very much. You’ve all worked immensely hard to achieve your qualifications, whilst making good friends and having fun along the way. You should be very proud of your achievements. Everyone at South Devon College and UCSD are very proud of you and we wish you all every success for the future.”

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