SCORES of students threw their mortar boards in the air as they celebrated their graduation after overcoming the trials and tribulations of a pandemic to complete their studies.
Darlington College staged two graduation ceremonies on consecutive days, the first for the class of 2020 who missed out last year, the second for their 2021 colleagues.
Gowned and wearing a traditional mortar board, they were congratulated by the principal of Darlington College Kate Roe and the academic registrar of Teesside University Jonathan Eaton before receiving their certificates in front of an audience of family and friends at the Mercure Darlington King’s Hotel.
Ms Roe told students and guests: “We are all really proud of what they have achieved. It is a massive achievement that they have been able to do this during a global pandemic and it is really great to see them collect their awards.
“This world needs the skills, attitude and commitment that they bring. Teesside University is very much our partner in this endeavour and that is an important part of the recognition these qualifications give them.
“This partnership gives people the option of studying locally, at their local college, to gain a university qualification. My advice now is to keep learning, stay curious, don’t be afraid to take unexpected opportunities. Go out, tell your story and inspire, coach and mentor others.”
Dr Eaton said: “The past 18 months have been incredibly difficult but despite that students have strived to succeed and should be very proud. Darlington College and Teesside University remain united in their unswerving commitment to provide first class education and training and these achievements also reflect the dedication of staff who have guided students along their journey.”
Valedictory speeches were given by students Chloe Roddam and Klara Halpin at the respective ceremonies.
Chloe, who secured a degree in education training, said: “For me, night classes made it possible to access higher education while being employed and gave me the opportunity to achieve a life-changing qualification that has given me the confidence and skills for the future.”
Klara, who also gained a degree in education training and is now a safeguarding lead at Teesdale School, Barnard Castle, where she was a pupil, added: “We embarked on the greatest challenge of our lives during the pandemic with online classes and remote learning. We grew our skills in ways we had never imagined and we came together as a community to support one another.
“Our ever-patient tutors and mentors inspired us to believe we could – and we did. We are stronger than we know, we can achieve the unachievable, we are more resilient than we knew.”