The sun shone for a very special graduation ceremony in Chichester last week.
Students from Chichester, Crawley and Brinsbury Colleges gathered for the Chichester College Group graduation, and it brought together graduating classes from both 2020 and 2021.
The ceremony recognised the hard work and achievement of students who have completed higher national certificates and diplomas (HNCs and HNDs), top-up degrees and professional qualifications in subjects ranging from animal management to computing, and from construction to business.
The students have completed their courses under the most challenging of circumstances, with the backdrop of a global pandemic which interrupted their learning and saw classes move from the classroom to their living rooms or bedrooms.
Sayyidur Rahman, who completed his HND in Computing at Crawley College, had extra cause for celebration after being offered a position as an IT technician the day before he graduated.
He said: “It feels really good to be here. My mum’s really proud, my sister’s really proud and I’m really proud.
“It’s just been a great journey with all that we went through, with Covid and all of those challenges but we got there in the end and I’m very happy.”
It was an emotional ceremony for many students who completed their studies last year, but had to wait another year for their ceremony as a result of the pandemic – such as Wendy Wasels.
Wendy finished her Operations Management Level 5 diploma in 2020, and spoke glowingly of her experience. She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be back with everybody who was on the course with me for these celebrations.
“I really enjoyed my course. The tutors were absolutely fantastic and really supportive
“I really felt like this was a great experience and so different from my first degree experience in 1984! This was so different, so supportive!”
Shelagh Legrave CBE, Chief Executive of the Chichester College Group, led the ceremony – her last one in her current post before she takes up the role of FE Commissioner in October.
She said: “I don’t think we can really underestimate the challenges that our graduates have faced in the past 18 months.
“They really have shown a tremendous level of commitment and passion for their subjects, and it is thanks to their own hard work and dedication – and that of their lecturers – that they can celebrate their accomplishments and look ahead to their bright futures.
“I know I speak for all of the staff when I say how proud we are of them."