UNIVERSITY Centre Somerset’s Classes of 2020 and 2021 have donned their gowns and mortarboards to celebrate their graduation at Wellsprings Leisure Centre in Taunton.

More than 700 students completed their university-level or professional qualifications at UCS in subjects ranging from agricultural management to fine art and accounting to motorsport engineering.

Among the guests attending across the four ceremonies were staff, parents, governors, and VIPs including Cllr Susan Lees, Mayor of Taunton.

Somerset County Gazette:

UCS welcomed two guest speakers to address graduates and guests - Fayth Mealing, a UCS engineering alumni who works for the Ministry of Defence, and Ethna Bashford, director of patient care at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

Five years ago, student awards were introduced to recognise the outstanding commitment and dedication shown by students.

This year the included:

  • Student of the Year 2020: Samia Vanstone and Zara Rizzuti-Wattam.
  • Student of the Year 2021: Nikita Binding.
  • Best Final Project or Dissertation 2020: Kara Lockie.
  • Best Final Project or Dissertation 2021: Naomi Beard and Sophie Gilroy.
  • Principal’s Prize 2020: Jessica Boulton.
  • Principal’s Prize 2021: Adam Jones.
  • University of Plymouth Academic Partnership Prize 2020: Jacques Luckins.
  • University of Plymouth Academic Partnership Prize 2021: Andrew Smith.

As is customary at UCS graduations, each ceremony was brought to a close with a student vote of thanks speech, written and delivered by students who had been nominated by their lecturers.

Somerset County Gazette:

The four students were Jessica Boulton, Holly Arkell, Fionnoula Finnegan, and Matt Ludlam, who said in the speech: "Graduation acts not as an end but rather a new beginning of exciting future opportunities, and when I look around at my fellow graduates I see a room full of people who have already proven that they are more than capable of rising to them.”

Andy Berry, principal and chief executive of University Centre Somerset, said: "The recent pandemic affected us all, but I am proud to stand here seeing before me the graduates of 2020 and 2021.

Somerset County Gazette:

"I know as graduates you faced challenges others will never have to encounter, but am sure your ability to adapt and determination to succeed will stand you in good stead in your future careers.”