HOME-SCHOOLED student Nathan Jeffers has been awarded a grant of £3,000 after being named a runner-up in an award which recognises promising future employees.
Nathan, a student at Southern Regional College’s Portadown campus, was one of three winners of the Norbrook Prize, awarded annually by Norbrook Pharmaceuticals to students who demonstrate skills and attributes that are most relevant for future employment.
The 19-year-old, who lives in Derryhale and was predominantly home-schooled by his mum until the age of 16, successfully completed a B Tech Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT (the equivalent of three A-levels).
He has been accepted by Queen’s University Belfast to study Computer Science.
The award was one of a number handed out at SRC’s biggest ever graduation ceremony at the Armagh City Hotel.
Over 700 graduates received their foundation degrees, higher level diplomas and professional qualifications from across a wide range of courses delivered at the college’s Armagh, Banbridge, Newry, Lurgan and Portadown campuses.
Honours degrees delivered in conjunction with the University of Ulster and John Moores University Liverpool were conferred on graduates in Business Studies, Accounting and Creative Imaging.
Mr Brian Doran, chief executive of Southern Regional College, paid tribute to the determination and dedication of students.
He said, “It is an honour to see you all here today, especially those of you for whom this rite of passage represents a culmination of several years’ hard work and application. Your presence here today demonstrates the important role that the College plays in diversifying the higher education system.
“The Southern Regional College remains committed to providing everyone, irrespective of social class or economic circumstances, with an equal opportunity to avail of higher education opportunities.”
Winner of the Norbrook Prize of £5,000 was Paddy Lundy, from Newry, a former professional football player with Nottingham Forest, who had returned to the college on a full-time basis in 2011 to complete the Access Diploma in Adult Learning. He has begun studying veterinary medicine at the University of Bristol.
The runner-up prizes of £3,000 were presented to Nathan and Anthony Murray from Dromintee.
The BT Award For Excellence in Blended Learning went to Carmel Mohan from Newry who studied the Level 7 Extended Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership.
Student of the Year Awards were presented to full-time and part-time students. The winners were Johanne Steenson, School of Creative Studies, Lurgan Campus; Mark Thompson, School of Construction and Built Environment, Portadown Campus; Marie Mallon, School of Computing and Business, Portadown Campus; Alan Hylands, School of Engineering and Automotive Studies, Portadown Campus.
Also Jacqueline McCaughey, School of Early Years and Health Care, Banbridge Campus; Jewel Hassin, School of Early Years and Health Care, Banbridge Campus; Cath Gradwell, School of Hospitality and Tourism, Newry Campus; and Ciara Bell, School of Hair and Beauty, Newry Campus.
Guest speaker Jim Eastwood, from the BBC1 show, The Apprentice, gave an inspiring address to graduates. Jim became the best ever salesperson in the history of The Apprentice, landing orders including a £1.6M deal from ASDA. He quickly became the bookies’ favourite to win, and received a massive career boost from Lord Sugar’s appraisal of his skills.