THE class of 2020 finally got to don their caps and gowns when New Collage held a graduation ceremony for two year groups.

After battling through the challenges of Covid and a series of lockdowns more than 130 higher education students attended one of four separate events held throughout the day at the Queens Drive campus on Saturday.

They graduated from a wide range of programmes offered by the college and partner universities such as the University of Gloucestershire, Oxford Brookes University and Bath Spa University.

Chief executive and principal Carole Kitching said: “We are absolutely honoured and delighted to help celebrate the success of our higher education graduates, who have achieved so well despite the difficult circumstances.

“This is an extremely special occasion for them and their families as they graduate, and we have no doubt that they will go on to experience exciting and fulfilling careers. We wish them every future success in their careers.”

MThe students attending the ceremonies were overjoyed with what they’d achieved.

Lori-Ann MacFarlane earned a BA (Hons) in Education and Lifelong Learning and is now completing a postgraduate Certificate in Education with Qualified Teacher Status at Coventry University, while she works in a school.

She said “I feel incredibly proud as I never thought this would happen. I am the first person to graduate in my family.

“My advice to others considering higher education would be to enjoy every minute of your degree. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and just go for it!”

Great Western Hospital worker Ricardo Castro graduated with a foundation degree in Health and Social Care and is employed as an assistant practitioner.

“I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved. It has transformed me and has opened up new future opportunities,” he said.

Katarzyna Szafraniec achieved a Higher National Certificate in Construction and the Built Environment (Construction) and is now employed as a project manager for a housing association.

She said: “I had wanted to complete this course for years as I wanted to get more experience in the construction industry.

“Hard work pays off in the end and knowledge and friends made at college stay with you.”