High Spirits at Higher Education Ceremonies

After much anticipation (and years for some cohorts), the RNN Group of Colleges celebrated the achievements of their Higher Education students last week at Rotherham United’s AESSEAL New York Stadium, accommodating hundreds of proud families and students graduating from classes as far back as 2019.  The joint celebrations spanned over three days (Wednesday 10th – Friday 12th November) commemorating the success of over 350 graduates from the RNN Group of Colleges courses, including Rotherham College, North Notts College and Dearne Valley College, and the state-of-the-art University Centre Rotherham (UCR).

The Class of 2019 had their Graduation delayed first due to the severe South Yorkshire floods, and then pandemic-related restrictions meant that the Class of 2020 were too delayed in their celebrations last year.

Following tradition, a procession of students and staff (including invited guests) marked the opening of the ceremony by parading into the ceremony room at the stadium. The Old Silkstone band from Barnsley led the procession with invited guests, the Mayor and Mayoress and Deputy Lord Lieutenant, who attended at least one ceremony across all three days alongside the CEO and Principal of the RNN Group, Jason Austin. The dignitaries were followed by a sea of graduation gowns and caps including staff from all three colleges.
Each student then received their commemorative certificate and were given motivational speeches by guest speakers Joada Allen (President of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce), Timm Cleasby (Commercial photographer and former tour manager for the Arctic Monkeys), Lisa Pogson (Managing Director at Airmaster and former President of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber) and Sally Humphries (former Teacher Education tutor at UCR) followed by student guest speakers Billie-Jo Batty, Diane Cornelius, Wendy Atkinson, Mitchell Nuttall and Humairaa Hussain.

The congregation were entertained at intervals by the vocals of Rotherham College BA (Hons) Popular Music Performance and Production student, Georgina Emmett.

Elaine Roberts, a graduate of Professional Development in Education, said: “It’s been a wonderful day; at last, we’ve got there! I’ve had a brilliant experience, and think the ceremony has been very well organised; everything’s ran very smoothly.”

Richard Bevins, a graduate of Certificate in Education, added: “It’s been quite an experience! My graduation would’ve been in 2020, so it’s been really nice catching up with fellow classmates. Since I finished my course, I now teach IT, which is perfect for me.”

Richard isn’t the only graduate to go on to success in teaching. Jennifer Singleton, also a graduate of Certificate in Education, said: “During my studies, the tutors were very supportive, and we’ve had a great time. I now teach Maths, and am one of the leads, which my qualification has definitely helped with!”

And some students haven’t had to wait as long as others to celebrate their outstanding efforts. Mollie Wilson, graduating with a Foundation Degree in Learning Support, said: “I’m quite lucky, as this is the year as I was meant to graduate anyway, so no waiting for me! For me, I’m wanting to go into teaching and am now studying my next degree for it – I’m looking forward to the next graduation. I’ve found my time here really invigorating and interesting.”

The RNN Group Colleges’ are passionate about supporting the local economy and raising the skill levels in our community.


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