Graduation took place on Friday 29th September for the students of Orkney’s UHI campus. As parents, students and staff settled into St Magnus Cathedral the Orkney Applied Music Group played. The ceremony commenced with a parade of staff and those to receive the Honorary Fellowship led by piper Ian MacDonald of Stromness RBL pipe band and ‘A Man’s A Man For A That’.
Dr Bill Ross, Principal of Orkney College UHI introduced the day explaining the genuine diversity provided by his institution and its support for lifelong learning.
Convener of Orkney Islands Council, Harvey Johnstone, as guest of honour, spoke of how honoured and privileged he felt to be asked to address the Graduation Ceremony. His speech ranged over many issues beginning with the building it was taking place in. ‘No other college’ he said, had a graduation ceremony in such a building which ‘880 years ago was a great achievement for Orkney’, especially in this year of the Magnus 900 ‘in whose memory it was built.’
He was ‘proud to see the cathedral packed full of achievers.’ He reflected on Orkney College being part of Orkney Islands Council with its ‘governance in Orkney for Orkney.’ He covered the new courses being offered and those that stretch back 50 years and of how students can now qualify in Orkney as Primary teachers without the need to go off the island an option also available for those wishing to teach in some secondary subjects.
He praised the staff of UHI Orkney which has 3 research wings: Agronomy, Nordic Studies and Archaeology. Staff who are in high demand across the world. ‘This is a great day for the staff,’ he said, ‘they cared for you, taught you, trained you and even carried some of you. He was especially pleased that Honorary Fellowships would be bestowed on the ‘Linklater bairns’, as he referred to Magnus Linklater CBE and Professor Emerita Kristin Linklater.
For students Harvey Johnstone said that it was a ‘definitive stage in your education, where you celebrate your hard earned achievements’. ‘You are the future.’
Harvey Johnstone commented that he had seen amazing changes in his lifetime as he even remembered when horses worked on the farm. For today’s students, however, these would pale compared to the changes they would see. ‘The world will change and you have to be ready for it.’ And the most important way to succeed is to have a positive attitude.
Professor Crichton Lang , UHI Deputy Principal and Head of School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences said that Orkney College UHI was one of the key partners in UHI and ‘represents what we have wanted to achieve’. This was due to its inclusiveness: a wide range of learners, stepping stones and connection points.
Addressing the students he commented that ‘receiving awards takes you to a key decision making point’ but that you must ‘continue to build your network and your skills.’
Today we have political change and instability, he said, but every generation has gone into a world of change. It ‘opens up new opportunities….don’t let change make you less confident.’ ‘Go out into that changing landscape and make the most of the opportunities.’
Reflecting on his own career he advised that ‘every turning point is an opportunity to explore further…. there are no wrong turns’. And added ‘if it’s for you, it doesn’t go by you.’
‘You will always be graduates of Orkney College UHI’, he added ‘everyone who has supported you has see something in you.’
He ended his address with, ‘Don’t forget the importance of relationships. Position yourself for opportunities.’
‘Become that future generation.’
‘There is always more inside you than you realize.’
Reporter: Fiona Grahame