Although Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s managers, tutors and support staff were unable to celebrate with their graduates in the usual way at a grand ceremony in Llandudno in front of families and friends due to the pandemic, they still aimed to give nearly a thousand students the best Graduation Ceremony experience possible…from the comfort and safety of their own homes!
The outstanding achievements of hundreds of Degree, Foundation Degree, HNC and Postgraduate students from Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s three colleges – Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor - were celebrated during the virtual ceremony, professionally filmed and edited by an award-winning film company. The ceremony recognised each of the graduates, individually naming all of the graduates from 2021 together with those from last year’s postponed ceremony.
Taking into account the obvious limitations, this year the college group built a dedicated Graduation website to add a little fun to proceedings. This included opportunities for graduates to win prizes including cakes for their families and friends to enjoy during the ceremony, to hire academic dress from the usual suppliers, to share their experiences of studying with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, and to upload selfies onto the website’s ‘Wall of Fame’. There was even a filter for Instagram which put a graduation cap on a graduate’s head when in selfie mode!
The number studying on university-level courses has increased steadily year-on-year. Today, the Grŵp has around 1,200 Higher Education students studying on 50 different degree courses, with over 400 students graduating each year, many with First-Class Honours.
Addressing the graduates, Dafydd Evans, CEO of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, said: “Achieving a Higher Education qualification and graduating is a big milestone in your lives which you will always remember. Reflect and enjoy the moment, because we as staff know how much effort, stress and pressure goes into studying at this higher education level. Today you are the pride of North Wales and the toast of your families, your friends and employers.”
One graduate who started working part-time at MacDonalds after school and is now working in estate and asset management, had double cause for celebration: gaining a first-class honours degree and joining his wife as a graduate, after she completed her degree two years earlier at Coleg Llandrillo.
Colin James-Davies from Abergele was awarded a BSc (Hons) Construction Management degree after successfully completing his studies at Coleg Llandrillo’s Rhos-on-Sea campus.
He started work at the fast food restaurant straight after school, working his way up to the position of manager before leaving for a new career in estate agency for a better work-life balance. After several years within this field, he decided to juggle his job role with a return to education on a part-time basis to advance his career prospects.
At the end of his second year of studies, he secured a role within Conwy County Council as a Project Manager within the property team. He then took a year out to focus on his new role before planning to return to Coleg Llandrillo the next academic year. Then…the pandemic hit. Colin explained more:
“During 2020 whilst awaiting to go back to college on day-release, I like many others started working from home as the pandemic began. It was at the start of this first lockdown that we got our first puppy, moved house and had our first baby! In September I returned to Coleg Llandrillo to start my third year, working remotely via Google Hangout lectures.
“During my whole degree experience at Coleg Llandrillo I received fantastic support for my dyslexia and had a brilliant team of tutors. I benefitted from small class sizes, flexible studying, very accessible tutors and access to all the recourses I could ask for.
“My wife did her degree at Coleg Llandrillo over two nights a week and we both couldn't recommend it enough. For anyone looking to study but not give up work, it's the perfect solution.
“I have recently moved teams within the local council and have just started my new role as Estate & Asset Management Technical Officer where I will be helping to manage the authorities’ properties and much, much more, including working towards further industry-accredited qualifications.
“I wouldn't be where I am today without Coleg Llandrillo's amazing tutors and my amazingly supportive wife.”
Eva Voma, 19, from Bangor, graduated from the HNC Engineering course at Coleg Menai’s Llangefni campus. Eva gained a wide breadth of knowledge from the course, learning a raft of engineering processes that frequently arise within the world of engineering, so that she didn’t feel out of depth after starting her new career within the sector. Eva recently got a job with International Safety Components (ISC), a leading global provider of height safety equipment.
Eva said: “I initially enrolled on the course to increase my knowledge and skill set, and I now aim to further my learning, take on more responsibilities in the workplace, and eventually focus more within the design engineering field. College helped a lot with my CAD (Computer-Aided Design) skills, which I am very pleased about, as it is a transferable skill and it has been very handy at work.”
William Prys-Jones from Caernarfon was awarded a First-Class Honours for his BA (Hons) Tourism Management degree. This is all the more remarkable considering that he has been juggling his studies with the demands of his role as Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Higher Education Student Union President this year.
William started his academic journey in Travel & Tourism at Level 2 at Coleg Menai, successfully completing that course before moving onto Level 3. He then joined Coleg Llandrillo, completing both his Level 4 and Level 5 (Foundation Degree) qualifications, before recently gaining his BA (Hons) degree (Level 6). He was also commended in this year’s ‘Next Tourism Generation’ competition.
Hannah Jane Denyer from Prestatyn graduated from the BSc (Hons) Policing and Criminal Investigation course at the college’s Rhos-on-Sea campus. She initially attended college to complete the two-year BTEC Public Services course, before deciding to progress on to the Policing degree course.
She said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my three years studying for the degree. I have become a Special Constable with North Wales Police, enjoying first-hand experience of what the police is all about. I believe this course has given me the best chances of achieving in my future career and my tutors have guided me through the whole process. This course covers great content, and the smaller class sizes means there is more opportunities for guidance. I am sad the three years are over so soon.”
21-year-old Lucy Sharpe from Dolwyddelan had two reasons to celebrate: not only did she gain her BA (Hons) Creative and Broadcast Media degree, but she also spent a few weeks working on the set off ITV series 'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!’ during her studies.
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai continues to expand its portfolio of Higher Education courses, both independently and in partnership with Higher Education institutions. As well as the more traditional honours degree programmes and higher nationals, the college has been at the forefront in developing and promoting innovative and unique Foundation Degrees and vocational courses.
The £4.5million University Centre Coleg Llandrillo (UCCL) at the college’s Rhos-on-Sea campus, which was built in partnership with Bangor University and is the base for nearly 1,000 learners, provides Higher Education students with bespoke teaching and learning facilities in one dedicated centre, rather than in different locations across the campus.
For more information on Higher Education courses available at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, contact the Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.