Monday, November 18, 2019
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Over 350 students and their friends and families attended this year’s Graduation Ceremony at the Nevis Centre Fort William on Friday 6 October.

Connor Dougan from Broadford received the Springboard Scotland Tourism Award and Heather McNeill, Crofting and Countryside Skills lecturer from Broadford, Isle of Skye Highlands and Islands Students Association received Best Academic Support.

This year over 250 students successfully gained their awards and over 120 of them were able to come to Fort William to celebrate their achievements at every level in the college, right up to degree and postgraduate level and they were accompanied by family, friends and guests representing local and national organisations as well as lecturing and support staff from the College.

Lydia Rohmer, Principal and Chief Executive of West Highland College UHI welcomed all the students and their families to the ceremony and congratulated them on their achievements saying: “We are all extremely proud of all your achievements and delighted that we can share this celebration with you. Just remember, there is no such thing as failure, only new opportunities to succeed in whatever you aspire to do.“

Two students were recognised as exceptional in their achievements. Both students received a certificate and cash award. Kelly Adams and Samanta Milzaraja, both from Fort William, were selected as for higher and further education Students of the Year respectively – more information follows in Background Information. 

Other Special Awards made during the Ceremony were to:

Connor Dougan, from Broadford, Isle of Skye - Springboard Scotland Tourism Award – presented by Lorna Ferguson of Springboard Scotland.

Alexander Murray, from Caol, Fort William - Strathmore Hotels Tourism Award - presented by Alison Tracy of the Ben Nevis Hotel

Jennifer MacInnes, from Fort William - Scottish Qualifications Authority College Award – presented by Graham Campbell, SQA.

Heather McNeill, Crofting and Countryside Skills lecturer from Broadford, Isle of Skye Highlands and Islands Students Association (HISA) “Best Academic Support” – presented by Sorcha Kirker, HISA Vice President, Higher Education.   

Heather McNeill, lecturer Crofting & Countryside Skills, Broadford, Isle of Skye, was selected from across the University of the Highlands and Islands to receive the award for Best Academic Support from the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association. This is one of 14 categories representing excellence across the university partnership.  

At the time, Sue Macfarlane, vice principal academic affairs at West Highland College UHI congratulated Heather: “We are absolutely delighted that Heather’s commitment to her students has been recognised in this way. While all of our lecturers and support staff do their absolute utmost to ensure that our students have the best possible experience and the best possible outcome to their studies, Heather has clearly gone the extra mile in providing encouragement and support when most needed. To be recognised by her own students is praise indeed, and we add our many congratulations to Heather on receiving this award.”

Dr Iain Morrison, dean of students at the university, said: “You cannot fool a student: they know high quality learning and teaching and great student support when they see it. The fact that there was a record number of nominations, covering every part of the university, suggests that our staff continue to provide excellent teaching and support for the people whose feedback they care about most, their students. The student testimony from these awards is genuinely moving at times and anyone considering studying with us can be assured they will be in good hands.”

Holly Scrimgeour, president of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association, said: “The HISA Awards are an excellent opportunity for our students to celebrate the people who have supported them throughout their studies and reward them for their efforts and contributions to university life. Our lecturers and support staff are vital to the student experience during study and these awards allow us an insight into who is going above and beyond to positively benefit our student population. The nominations are a delight to read. The HISA Awards also acknowledge our class representatives and clubs and societies ensuring that we celebrate those students who give their time and support to their classmates. It is an honour to give these awards.”

The NC Crofting and Countryside skills course at West Highland College UHI is available in Broadford, Isle of Skye, and attracts students of all ages and backgrounds from across Skye, Lochalsh, Lochaber and beyond. The students study a range of industry approved training courses such a chainsaw, pesticides and dry stone walling and combine classroom theory with practical hands on sessions in subject areas such as estate management, environmental studies, gardening, livestock and fisheries management.

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