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North Highland College students graduate despite problems posed by Covid

By Gordon Calder

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OVER 200 students completed their studies and graduated from North Highland College in Thurso this year despite the challenges created by the coronavirus.

Although a formal graduation ceremony could not go ahead, the college presented annual student of the year awards for further education (FE), higher education (HE) and post-graduate students.

Shona Miller received her award in the FE category having completed a Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare. Lecturer Donna Bain, who nominated Shona, described her as "a very conscientious and diligent student who has shown commitment and dedication, completing the course with a high standard of work".

After accepting her award, Shona said: "I am very grateful to win student of the year and would like to thank all the lecturers at the college who helped me achieve this. After a difficult year, I was pleased that all my hard work was rewarded. I really enjoyed the course last year, although it was different completing it online. I was disappointed not to be able to complete any work placements, but it was great to be able to learn about the basics and another side of healthcare before heading off to study nursing at university."

Shona Miller, Further Education student of the year (centre) with from left lecturer Donna Bain and college principal Debbie Murray.
Shona Miller, Further Education student of the year (centre) with from left lecturer Donna Bain and college principal Debbie Murray.

Higher Education student of the year, Christina Hope, began her studies at the college on a course before achieving a BA (Hons) in Equine Business Management.

Equine lecturer, Diane Ross, said: " Christina always pushed herself out of her comfort zone. She always gave her best and organised her own work placements where she could learn new skills and use what she had learned during the course." Throughout her studies, Christina also volunteered with Riding for the Disabled and used her marketing skills to assist them.

Post-graduate student of the year was awarded to Huiyi Zhang who is nearing completion of his PhD on the removal of emerging contaminants with marine plastic-based adsorbents.

Director of Studies, Dr Szabolcs Pap, based at the Environmental Research Institute said: "Huiyi is an outstanding student and should be commended for his hard work and attitude during the last year, in what has been an unprecedented, and stressful time. Despite many challenges, he has continued to be generous with his time to support others, has published his first peer-reviews paper (with English being his second language) and is still on track with his own PhD progress".

Principal, Debbie Murray, said: "I am delighted we have so many graduates from North Highland College UHI this academic year. To provide a rewarding student experience is the reason the college exists, and we are massively proud of everyone who have continued or completed their studies through the pandemic. It has been great to meet in smaller numbers, those who were nominated and awarded student of the year – a great achievement for all involved."

North Highland College UHI is one of thirteen academic partners and research centres that make up the University of the Highlands and Islands.

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