Hear some of the inspirational tales among UHI Inverness graduates
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There are over 300 students of different ages and backgrounds who are today celebrating the success of their completion of higher education qualifications.
Whilst some students commit themselves to full-time degree programmes, others opt for more flexible options such as part-time or online learning to fit their studies around other commitments.
The qualifications awarded at today's graduation include a range of Higher National Certificates, Higher National Diplomas, Degrees and Postgraduate programmes.
Jodie Mullery (34), from Avoch, was a stay-at-home mum of three small boys when she decided to begin her studies at UHI Inverness after the death of her partner. She initially studied hairdressing before progressing onto HNC fashion make-up.
Ms Mullery is now starting up her own make-up and hairdressing business venture and wants to show her three sons that hard work and determination does pay off.
“I absolutely loved my time at UHI Inverness," she said. "I honestly miss it so much.
“I always felt respected and was encouraged by my lecturers to keep going when times were hard or when I didn’t believe in myself. I never would have been able to do it without them. Realising I was capable and had the ability to be a hairdresser and a make-up artist was just the best feeling.”
Zoe Field (35), from Dingwall, studied a HNC in social services after deciding she wanted to become a support worker to help other female victims of domestic abuse while she was living in a women's refuge with two children and pregnant with her third. She now works as a relief drug and alcohol support worker in Beechwood House, in Inverness, where she completed her student placement.
She said: “The atmosphere is very relaxed around UHI Inverness, and I enjoyed integrating with others. There was support readily available if and when you needed it. When I started my student placement I was able to apply the theory into practice. I enjoyed every minute of my placement, so much so, I applied for a job there after finishing. I am also in contact with Women's Aid hoping to obtain a job with them when one comes available.”
A move from Belgium to Inverness proved to be the right one for married couple Meilan Simanjuntak (41) and Scott Kinsman (41). Meilan studied BA (Hons) in literature whilst her husband, Scott studied a BSc in networking and cyber security.
Meilan said: “We lived in Belgium and in the summer of 2019 we moved to Inverness, where my husband grew up, so he could start his course. I decided a year later to also follow my passion to get that degree I always dreamed of.
“I loved discovering new books, authors and genres; things I would never pick up in a bookstore myself. Doing this course definitely broadened my world. I’m also thankful for the other students in my course. I might be what is called a mature student, but they never made me feel like I did not belong. I always felt included, and I get on very well with them all.”
Meilan is now studying an MA in Victorian gothic at the University of Portsmouth and Scott works as a cyber security engineer at Capgemini. Scott said that studying at UHI Inverness provided a stepping stone towards the right career path for him.
Amber Geddes (22), from Inverness, is celebrating achieving a BSc (Hons) psychology degree after securing an online place at UHI Inverness through their widening access programme.
Amber missed a few years of high school due to illness and thought she would never be accepted onto a university course. She said: “UHI Inverness gave me an opportunity that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
“I really appreciate the skills that online study taught me, and the degree modules gave a really diverse look into the possible specialisations that one can go into. Not having the same secondary education as my peers was a big barrier for my higher education. But the opportunity that UHI Inverness gave me to complete my Bachelors in psychology has opened up a lot of opportunities.”
Amber is now studying a developmental psychology Masters at the University of Dundee and intends to start a research-based PhD next year.
Charlotte Bailey (26) a former chef from Skye has completed a BEng (Hons) Energy Engineering. Her dedication has also gained her two separate memorial scholarships during her time at UHI Inverness.
Charlotte said: “Before joining UHI Inverness I was a chef in a small restaurant on Skye and whilst I enjoyed it, I couldn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life. During my early education I didn’t think I would ever go to university or gain a degree but through perseverance and the support provided I’ve graduated with a first-class honours degree.
“It has allowed me to enter the engineering graduate programme with SSE and I hope to complete this over the next two years and become a qualified senior authorised person and a chartered engineer in the next four years.
“I really enjoyed the flexibility around studying. The community at UHI Inverness was amazing and while studying online took some getting used to, there was support readily available from other students, lecturers, personal academic tutors and 'The Bothy'.”
Studying at UHI Inverness has been life-changing for Jessie MacKintosh (45), from Carrbridge, who started her new job immediately after completing her BSc (Hons) archaeology and environmental studies degree.
Jessie said: “I undertook a placement at a local peatland restoration company, ADL Nature, and enjoyed it immensely. When they advertised for a graduate position I applied and got the job! I handed in my dissertation on a Friday and my contract started the following Monday. I love my job and it is absolutely perfect for me.”
Jessie brought up her family and worked part-time as a pupil support assistant in the local primary school before joining UHI Inverness.
“I enjoyed learning so many things. The teaching was so interesting and effective, and I always felt supported and encouraged by my lecturers,” she said.