HUNDREDS of graduates dressed in gowns and mortar boards processed amid rapturous applause towards a brighter future after completing their studies at a North college.
Families, friends and staff were joined by academic and civic dignitaries to celebrate as the class of 2018 marked the culmination of their studies at Darlington College.
One by one they collected their awards certificates from Darlington College principal Kate Roe and Teesside University pro-vice chancellor Professor Mark Simpson, proving their dedication to learning, often overcoming adversity in the process.
Guest of honour Darlington Mayor Veronica Copeland told guests at the graduation ceremony, at the Mercure Darlington King’s Hotel: “We are hugely proud of Darlington College which reflects the aspirations and talents of our community.
“The partnership with Teesside University is a beacon of best practice nationally and internationally and the college is a flagship of the Tees Valley. Today is about student success and the qualifications they have received are an exceptional achievement.”
Professor Simpson said: “In the current climate we are all too aware of the sacrifices made by families to support students and the dedication and commitment of staff, without which these achievements would not have been possible.
“Students should be very proud; they have opened their minds to the opportunities that exist and are bringing new skills and expertise to our region. We are confident they will thrive and make the leaders of tomorrow.”
Ms Roe described the graduation as the highlight of the college year. She added: “We are so proud of our students. It is not just what they have achieved but how they achieved it, with the majority studying part-time, juggling studies with work and families, often completing assignments when their children have gone to bed, which is truly inspiring.”
For building studies graduate Andrew Marley studying at Darlington College has laid the foundations of future success and offered the chance to secure a job in “Manchattan”.
The former Barnard Castle School student swapped games design at university for a Level 4 HNC in building studies and is now being paid to read a BSc in construction project management at Salford University by his employer Renaker, which specialises in high-rise luxury accommodation in Manchester.
“We are currently working on a 66-storey prestigious development believed to be the tallest outside London where the penthouse apartment is valued at £3.1m,” said Andrew, of Bishop Auckland, who got his first taste of the industry labouring for his father, contractor William Marley.
“Manchester is incredible; we counted 76 tower cranes in the city which is a sign of the level of investment and why its nickname is ‘Manchattan’.”
Darlington College curriculum manager for construction, building services and science Lisa Bowerbank said: “Andrew enrolled on a two-year programme with us where he demonstrated his commitment to learning and a passion to achieve.”
Electrical and electronics graduate Mike Rumney was more than happy to jump on a tandem behind his tutor Steven Corner after graduating with an HNC.
“I suppose you could say that is what I did when I enrolled at Darlington College after being made redundant from a council social care job – I jumped on my bike,” said the 45-year-old, of Darlington. “I retrained at Darlington College and now work there.”
Senior lecturer in mechatronics and electrical engineering Mr Corner said: “He was the best student in his year and is now doing a brilliant job for the college blending his old skills with his new qualifications.”
For more information on opportunities at Darlington College visit www.darlington.ac.uk.