The first of around 900 University of Northampton students donned mortarboard hats for their graduation ceremony today, which saw Baroness Lawrence awarded an honorary fellowship.
Alumni from the Northampton Business School and the School of Science and Technology received their honorary scrolls at the Royal and Derngate, in the first of four ceremonies the university is holding over the course of this weekend.
Dressed in the traditional graduation attire, Rebecca Broome, 33, of Duston said she was proud to be collecting her post-graduate diploma in human resources management.
Speaking before the ceremony she said: “I’m excited but nervous I’ve never graduated before.
“This is such a big achievement, it shows the career path I took was the right one and I’m very proud.”
Her friend on the same course, Emma Munro, 27, of Abington Vale, said: “I am excited because we have both worked so hard for this - this just makes it all official.”
From further afield Scott Westwater, of Glenrothes, Fife , was at the Royal and Derngate with his family to receive his first class FdSc degree certificate in non-destructive testing.
The engineer, 35, who completed his studies in the evening part-time to keep work commitments, said: “There was a lot of putting my life on hold, but this makes it all worth it.”
The graduation ceremony today saw Baroness Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, receive an honorary fellowship for her work in reforming the police service and founding the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.
Speaking before the ceremony Lady Lawrence said that fears over debt and rising tuition fees should not prevent young people from heading into higher education.
She said: “I would say to anyone think about your education first and the debt second.
“If you focus your worries on the debt aspect, you will never do anything.
“People need to be as educated as possible nowadays to compete.”
Tomorrow (Sunday) will see three ceremonies take place at the Royal and Derngate on behalf of the university’s School of Education, School of Social Sciences and School of Health and the School of Health and School of The Arts.
Tomorrow will also see broadcaster, journalist and author, Mark Lawson conferred an honorary doctorate for his services to the arts and culture.