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The annual Lews Castle College UHI graduation and prizegiving ceremony took place this afternoon (Friday August 24)-Graduates assembled in the Martins Memorial hall before being piped down Francis Street to be seated in the church building.

Lews Castle College Principal Iain Macmillan welcomed the graduates, students, families and UHI guests to the graduation, before introducing guest speaker, Don Mackay.

Don Mackay, who is originally from Ballantrushal, is UK Operations Director for EDF.  Don began by telling the students of his own experience with further education. He explained how having not achieved his desired grades at school he had to work hard to achieve the success he now enjoys. He also explained how through this success he hopes to give opportunities to others on the island.

Don said, “I had to move away to study, but I now find myself, able to spend time back home, working for a global organisation and within that Lewis Wind Power, leading projects that I believe one day soon will bring industrial scale wind turbines to this island.

“This will be an investment that is significant and will guarantee sustainability and provide opportunity for the community, for other energy schemes and for many other business innovations.”

Don closed by offering words of advice to the departing graduates, before they enter the world of work, “I want you to be expectant, expect that you can make a contribution, do not limit yourself, be diligent, the hard work that is associated with these islands and the effort you have put in over the last few years doesn’t finish here.

“Conscientious hard work stands out in the workplace. Be willing to be flexible, what you do may not be directly related to what you have studied but the exciting part of the workplace today as that there are diverse routes, pathways and opportunities, find what you enjoy doing and do it.

“Be creative, we live in a world where this is crucial, in the workplace you must be resourceful and find solutions. Finally keep learning, keep developing yourself, and surround yourself with people who can help.”

Don then handed over to UHI Principal and Vice Chancellor Professor Clive Mulholland who formally opened the graduation. Clive discussed the advancements that had been made by the university over the past year. In particular the awarding of the UHI’s first honorary doctorate and a hugely positive performance in University league tables

Clive then used the analogy of migrating geese to offer advice to the departing students, “When geese fly together in a v formation each goose provides additional lift and reduces air resistance for the goose behind it. This allows the whole flock to fly faster and to travel further than when they fly alone. As you embark on the next stage of your journey remember, if you want to go high and you want to go far and you want to go fast, then go together.”

Following these speeches students were one by one presented with their HNC, HND and degree awards.  Special mention goes to Crisdean Saunders who was named further education student of the year across the whole of the UHI and Edward Graham who was named most engaging Conference Tutor, again across the whole of the UHI. Both these awards were voted on by students through the Highlands and Islands Students Association (HISSA)

Following the awarding of certificates and prizes Principal Ian Macmillan closed proceedings, “Most of what we do in life is based on the small decisions we make.  After I graduated, I came up to Lewis for a friend’s wedding and I made one such decision that changed my life, that set me of on the career that I’ve certainly enjoyed so far.  That decision was to move from the Carlton to the County for my next pint; on my way I met someone who gave me a job.  We can spend all our lives planning but we must remember to live for today.”

“Be proud to tell people you are a graduate of the University of the Highlands and Islands because it is something to be proud off.

“I wish you well please enjoy today and find a way to make the most of the opportunities that come to you, you deserve all of our congratulations.”