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Graduation ceremonies continue on the Ipswich Waterfront

17 Oct 2018 1:45PM

Students from the School of Law and Social Sciences and the School of Psychology and Education at the University of Suffolk have graduated on the Ipswich Waterfront including the first cohort of MSc Crime and Community Safety: Evidence Based Practice.

1,402 students will be conferred at ceremonies taking place this week. Amongst those graduating was the current Students’ Union President and Vice-President.

Georgia Downs and Amy Grant studied Psychology and Early Childhood Studies. Georgia said “The University will always have a special place in my heart; I have made some amazing friends. I can’t pick one thing that will be a lasting memory. I have been so excited for today. Even though I have helped with the planning process of the graduation ceremonies I didn’t think it would look even half as good as it does. Everyone is really buzzing and we get to showcase the University’s location with having the ceremonies on the Waterfront.”

Amy added “I’d summarise my experience at Uni as life changing. I’m ecstatic for today, it’s very exciting. It’s amazing to see all the plans for graduation come to life. It looks really grand and beautiful on the Waterfront.”

Gemma Abbott graduated with a BA (Hons) in Social Work and now works in a child protection team. She was awarded ‘Best Dissertation’ and achieved a First Class Honours. She said, “I’m proud of myself today. My mum passed away in my first year and it was really, really difficult. I thought I might take a year off but then I knew she would want me to plough on and she always taught me to be quite courageous and brave so I carried on (with my studies). My personal tutor was really supportive and I also accessed counselling through the University which massively helped.”

“My mum was an inspiration for me to become a social worker, she had social workers involved over the years both good and bad experiences and that’s partly why I chose the degree.”

Fellow Social Work graduate, Rachele Button, is now working with the Fostering Changes for Children team at Suffolk County Council. She also achieved a First Class Honours and said, “When I initially started Social Work I wanted to work with families who have experienced substance misuse within the home, then I started working with older adults with dementia and I have a real passion for both of those areas. I wanted to stay in fostering though because I felt like I hadn’t achieved everything I wanted to. That’s one of the good things about the degree, it covers both children and adults. It is good to learn about both as it gives you a good understanding. If you’re working in one area you do have a knowledge about the other.”

In the afternoon students from the School of Psychology and Education graduated including Woodbridge based Alex Munns.

Alex gradated with a BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs & Disability Studies and has set up a charity called Project 21 aimed at offering events, activities and clubs for people with Down’s Syndrome in Suffolk.

Alex’s passion is to enhance the lives of people with Down’s Syndrome and to challenge the misconceptions of Down’s Syndrome in society.

She said, “I have worked with people with Down Syndrome for a few years but coming to Uni channelled that passion for me. It made me realise that I didn’t want to go into teaching or a normal job, I wanted to use my ability to create something exciting and something that the Down Syndrome community could be part of in the future.”

Sarah Arch also graduated with a BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs & Disability Studies. She said, “I loved being challenged at University and being encouraged to question the world around me.”

“Whilst in my first year one of our modules concentrated on the different types of disabilities that exist and it was through this module that I became convinced my son had autism. With the support of my peers who also have children with ASD we managed to get him diagnosed during my second year at uni which has made a positive impact on both my relationship with him but also on his own self esteem.” 

“Throughout my final year at University I started accessing the student support services and now I am working at the University as a Disability and Wellbeing Advisor.”

Honorary awards were presented to founder and CEO of Suffolk based coffee brand Paddy & Scott’s, Scott Russell, founder of the organisation Autism & ADHD, Annie Clements and founder of the animal charity Suffolk and Essex Small Animal Welfare (SESAW), Maggie Jackaman.

Scott Russell became an honorary fellow of the University.  Scott is a former EADT East Anglian Business Person of the Year and the driving force in making Paddy & Scott’s one of the UK’s top independent coffee brands. Scott is a proud member of Accelerate 250 (the UK’s top 250 companies geared for growth) after being championed by the Prime Ministers Enterprise Advisor, Lord Young, and ex Tesco CEO, Sir Terry Leahy. 

In 2016, Scott founded the Meru Farm and Ruiga School project in Kenya, a world first collaboration between the consumer and coffee grower driving sustainability and education, whilst breaking down trade barriers that encourages free trade amongst the whole coffee growing community.

In 2017, Scott was named by Grant Thornton as one of the country’s top 100 influential business leaders joining the illustrious list of “Faces of a Vibrant Economy”.

Scott said, “I feel incredibly proud to be here today. Paddy & Scott’s is about fuelling ambition so if we can create coffee that fuels ambition then that’s job done for us. Having our brand in the café as part of the University campus is an amazing launch pad for us. I met a client from London and we took them on the train to the University of Suffolk so we’re exposing this brand and this amazing university to people who perhaps wouldn’t normally come to the campus.”

Scott has this advice to those gradating “Just go for it, if you’re given a good opportunity just say yes and worry about how you’re going to do it afterwards. Don’t let things hold you back. Be honest, be authentic; I think authenticity is the new currency and I think be true to your customers, listen to them.”

Addressing the students in the ceremony, Scott said, “Put your phone down, stop looking for that elusive filter that makes the sunset beautiful, it is already beautiful so enjoy it. Before you make a comment ask yourself three questions; is it truthful, is it required and is it positive, if not don’t say it. Don’t measure success on the size of your bank balance, success is measured by the amount of stamps you have in your passport- see the world, travel, go out there. Volunteer, create memories that will enthral and excite your grandchildren. I left school aged 16 with no exams; I can’t believe how proud I am standing in these robes today. I am proud and excited to be an honorary fellow of this brilliant university.”

Annie Clements has over 30 years’ experience working with both young people and disability. She has worked in delivering face-to-face youth work and in creating and monitoring projects and organisations. She has vast experience of feeding into local and national policy and strategy and it is estimated Annie’s work has affected at least 10,000 families, with the possibility of many more considering the number of professionals she has trained across the UK & Europe.

Autism & ADHD works very closely with the University on the Special Educational Needs and Disability Studies degree. The organisation delivers talks to the students and are part of the Board that looks at the course and employability.

Annie said, “I am very humbled to be part of the students’ celebrations. The big message I have for the students today is that it is normal to be different. It is really important to connect with people who have the same values. My children inspire me and I’m so pleased they are with me today. My son was diagnosed with autism aged two and a half and it is a real step forward for him to be here, he’s now 27. It was seeing the difficulties that we were facing as a family that got me on the path to making a difference and setting up.”

Maggie Jackaman was recognised for services to animal welfare and the community. Maggie founded Suffolk and Essex Small Animal Welfare (SESAW), a registered charity that cares for and re-homes injured and homeless animals. 400 animals are re-homed annually by SESAW. She has served 22 years as a Parish Councillor, ten of them as Chair and in 2016; she received a Babergh District Council Community Achievement Award.

She said, “I feel extremely honoured but really it isn’t just me, I will be accepting this on behalf of the volunteers too.”

To the students at the ceremony, Maggie gave this message “Whatever your dream is, you should follow it. If you work hard enough you will achieve what you set out to do.”

The final graduation ceremonies of 2018 will take place tomorrow, which will see students from the School of Health Sciences and the School of Science, Technology and Engineering graduate as well as students from the University of Suffolk at Suffolk New College.


University of Suffolk Press Office
T: 01473 338476