Graduation is a special day and I was very privileged to be part of West Lothian College’s 2019 celebrations on Saturday 26 October. Sharing the success of our graduates rounded off a great year for the college. In 2018-19, we had the highest ever number of students and the best student results in over ten years. Here’s my message to this year’s graduates.

Congratulations on achieving your qualification!

Your success rounds off a very good year for West Lothian College. Our job at the college is to develop a highly skilled workforce and, looking at you today, tells me that we’re making great progress on that ambition.

I’m looking out at an audience with the skills, qualifications and knowledge that I know will make a difference to people’s lives, to our communities, and to the economy locally, nationally and internationally.

I see the early years professionals who will support our children in nurseries and primary schools.

I see the care practitioners, future nurses and social workers who will look after us in our communities, hospitals and care homes.

I see sport and fitness advisers who will help us have healthier lifestyles, and hair and beauty experts who will make us feel good about ourselves.

I see business experts and accountants who will become future managers and help run organisations more effectively.

I see artists who will create works of beauty that will inspire us, and events planners who will design events to entertain and excite us.

And I see engineers and technologists who will design, build and maintain the physical and digital infrastructure needed for life in the 21st century.

So, I’m very confident that we’re developing a highly skilled workforce. Every week I hear about the impact of our former students and I’ll share one example.

Last month, we held a major technology conference for 400 students in this same hall. It was sponsored by international tech company, Adobe. So, why did this California-based company give thousands of dollars to a college in Livingston in Scotland? Simple. Because they’re now benefiting from the talent of former HNC Computing graduate, Den Jones, who is their Director of Enterprise Security!

For many of you, sticking in at college and achieving your qualification was only possible because of the support of those around you – your family, friends and fellow students. Your lecturers, other staff at the college, and your Student Association also played a vital role.

Student President Michelle Low, Vice President Gemma Reynolds, and development officer Micole Cochrane did a tremendous job last year. I have never worked with such a caring, hard working and relentless student association team, and wasn’t surprised when the National Union of Students named them Student Association of the Year.

They worked tirelessly on your behalf all year, making sure that I knew about anything that could improve your experience at college. They encouraged you to share your views on what we do well and what could be better, and they shared your feedback with me. As a result, we made lots of changes.

What I hope you’ll take from this is that your opinion counts. What you think matters. Taking the time to tell us what you thought about the college led to real improvements that students this year are benefiting from. I’d encourage you to take every opportunity throughout your life to provide feedback on how to make things better. With the possibility of a general election soon, remember that you can make a difference by taking the time to express your views. You’ve made a difference here, you can make a difference in elections.

Take time out to be proud of yourself and that qualification you now have.

Don’t forget that you were the main reason for your success. You did the hard work to achieve your qualification. You managed your way through any difficulties you faced. You kept going even when it got tough.

That determination and staying power should give you confidence in your ability to succeed in whatever you do next.

Today’s graduates are likely to have many career changes throughout their life. That might sound scary, but you can make these changes work for you.

Stay interested in whatever you do, keep learning and don’t be afraid of change. This will help you get the most out of your career in a fast-moving world. Change will happen – be ready for it and learn to adapt.

Build your networks. Connect with experts on social media platforms like LinkedIn to keep up-to-date with your industry, seek their advice, and get yourself noticed for that dream job.

Build your resilience. Sometimes in life and work things go wrong – a bad boss, a problem at work, a family crisis, ill health. Invest time in keeping yourself mentally strong. This will help you cope with any challenges you face so that you come out of these situations stronger.

Finally, in whatever you do in life, be kind, be fair and treat people the way you want to be treated yourself. That way, you will be a better student, a better employee, a better manager, a better person.

Well done and thank you for choosing West Lothian College!

We’d love you to stay part of our family, so please keep in touch and let us know how you are getting on.


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