Scores of Sunderland adult learners celebrated in style at a graduation ceremony held at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light last week.
Over 80 students were recognised at our graduation event which marked the successful completion of their courses, and this year a special Principal’s Award was given to one of the college’s shining stars.
Nathan Marsden, 21, from Doxford Park, Sunderland, who has just completed the Steps 4 Change Programme which aims to give young people a second chance in education, scooped the Principal’s Award for his fundraising work to help to send seven students on a life-saving mission to an East African orphanage.
Nathan, who has been involved in the project to teach people in Tanzania about hygiene and disease prevention, said it was amazing being involved in a project that changes so many people’s lives and to receive an accolade for his efforts.
He said: “I am so pleased to be rewarded for my part in the project. It is great to know it had such a significant impact on so many lives. I was so surprised to hear my name when they announced the winner.
“The other young people and my tutors are so happy for me too. Although I didn’t get to go Tanzania to see the people the project helped, the team that went told me all about how our hard work had benefited the communities there.”
Principal, Anne Isherwood, said: “Nathan is a credit not only to the college but also to Sunderland. His hard work and determination has helped so many people living in a community so far away from where he lives.
“The project is something the college is very proud of and everyone involved is committed to raising as much money as possible. The students and staff aim to go back as soon as possible to develop the project further. It is a real honour to be able to present Nathan with the Principal’s Award, he thoroughly deserves it. ”
The night saw some of the top performers picking up special recognition awards for their efforts. Another worthy winner included Ashleigh Hudson, 22, from Grindon, Sunderland, who picked up apprentice of the year award, for her hard work throughout her course in business administration and her commitment to engaging young people across the region who are not currently in work or education.
Ashleigh, who works closely with engagement managers at the Million Jobs Campaign, recently met Prime Minister, David Cameron, as a result of her commitment to engage young people who are not in employment or training in some of the most deprived areas across the region.
She said: “I left school at 15 and became homeless and by the time I was 18 I was living in sheltered accommodation. I was finally given the chance to start an apprenticeship in business administration. Lots of young people are jobless and we need to do something about it; that is why I have been involved in the campaign. For my work to be recognised is great and I hope it inspires other young people in the area.
“Being able to meet David Cameron was a great experience. I have worked hard to try to help other young people who want an opportunity to learn and work so to receive an award for that is brilliant.”
Rob Lawson, former editor of the Sunderland Echo and chair of the board of executives at Sunderland College, was impressed by the talented learners.
He said: “It was a real pleasure to be able to host these awards. It is fantastic to reward the talented individuals at the college. Some of the students who have received special recognition awards are a true inspiration.
“To recognise the talent coming through is so important – to celebrate it at events like this graduation ceremony is even more important. I would like to congratulate the adult learners who graduated. Their hard work has certainly paid off.”