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UHI Inverness Graduations: Meet the graduates who returned to academia, studied remotely and stayed loyal to the Highlands

UHI Inverness graduation. Image: UHI Inverness.
UHI Inverness graduation. Image: UHI Inverness.

Students from a range of subjects and degrees have celebrated their graduation from UHI Inverness.

Eden Court was packed with more than 800 people as excited graduates came together as a university family for the final time.

The ceremony was attended by friends, families and staff from the university, as well as the area’s famous Stoltman brothers and a mix of alumni.

While there was talk of fond memories and stressful studies, the most colourful discussion was of the future.

Here are some of this year’s UHI Inverness students looking back on their studies and forward to what is to come:

Jody Smart

Jody Smart. Image: UHI Inverness.

UHI Inverness was Jody Smart’s first choice as he had no desire to leave the Highlands.

“I wanted to remain local to ensure family support, to save money and to allow me to continue with my part-time retail job,” he said.

The 22-year-old graduated with a first-class honours degree in architectural technology after joining UHI Inverness straight from school.

He said he was proud of himself for studying through the pandemic, even if it was “quite stressful at times”.

He added: “The course suited my skills and area of interest. I enjoy working with technology and was impressed with the design studios. I could see career potential after graduation.”

Inverness-based Mr Smart was right, securing a job with CRGP Architects within two days of completing his studies.

Jamie MacManaway

Jamie MacManaway. Image: UHI Inverness.

Jamie MacManaway dropped out of university after a year when he was younger, but decided to return at the age of 38.

He selected a geography degree, falling back in love with academia and saying: “There’s absolutely no way that I could be doing what I do now if I hadn’t done my degree.”

Based in Fort William, Mr MacManaway now divides his time between lecturing at UHI West Highland and a postgraduate research student at Dundee University.

He said: “I loved being able to spend time reading and learning about things that I was deeply interested in and passionate about. I also enjoyed being part of a small cohort and getting the opportunity to form relationships with the lecturers and tutors.

“The opportunity to get out and take part in field trips around the Highlands was a particular highlight.”

Amber MacInnes

Amber MacInnes. Image: UHI Inverness.

Commuting from Fort William to Inverness to study a BA in business management may sound like a big commitment, but it was one that paid off for Amber MacInnes.

The 21-year-old was able to keep her part-time job throughout her studies and now has a job as a finance/procurement assistant.

“This course was right for me as it was as close to home as possible which enabled me to hold down my part-time job at the same time,” said Ms MacInnes.

“It was also an area I had an interest in. I enjoyed getting the chance to meet new people, who I am still good friends with. I also enjoyed the learning which covered VAT, law, and economics as these were all relevant in real day-to-day life.”

She added that studying from home during the pandemic was made easy by tutors and lecturers at UHI Inverness.

Linda Hilton

Linda Hilton. Image: UHI Inverness.

Linda Hilton said she owes the completion of her studies to health and social studies tutors at UHI Inverness who supported her when she fell ill.

The 39-year old said: “My degree has helped me progress into a role that I would not have been able to do previously, and it has given me the confidence to move forward in many ways.

“I received support from my tutors when I became very ill from advanced endometriosis during Covid-19 due to delayed surgery. If it was not for them, I would have given up.”

Ms Hilton, from Nairn, is now on a year-long secondment with NHS Highland in its new type 2 diabetes food and health service.

She uses holistic methods to to improve her clients’ wellbeing and has just started new clinics in Aviemore and Nairn.

Nathalie Nobee-Marshall

Nathalie Nobee-Marshall. Image: UHI Inverness.

Despite already holding a number of management roles, Nathalie Nobee-Marshall wanted to return to university to further her skills.

The Forres-based 49-year-old graduated with a first-class degree in business and management with enterprise, and recommended the university to “anyone looking to study a course.”

She added: “I didn’t do a degree when I was young, and I felt that I needed to gain more knowledge for my future career.

“I have been a manager in several businesses, but I am always trying to achieve at a higher level and wanted to learn more. With my life experience and now my degree, I believe I will be able to make a success out of starting my own business to help support other businesses.”

Audrey Anderson

Audrey Anderson. Image: UHI Inverness.

Audrey Anderson juggled working and raising her family in Nairn throughout her child and youth studies degree.

The 37-year old is now taking a year out before going on to do a PGDE primary education course.

She encouraged anyone who wants to under take studies to persevere.

“I’ve gained so much experience in the sector I wish to work in and gained my degree to progress onto the PGDE primary teaching,” she said.

“If you want something really badly, put in the work, you will find your way through it and gain a qualification. Being able to study, work and raise a family through a pandemic wasn’t easy, but now I’m benefiting from my hard work and determination.”

Hannah Baxter

Hannah Baxter. Image: UHI Inverness.

Studying primary education at UHI Inverness led Hannah Baxter to her “dream job”.

The 21-year-old is now a probationary teacher at Smithton Primary School with her own primary three class.

Staying in her hometown of Inverness has been beneficial to her throughout her studies.

Ms Baxter said: “My first choice was always UHI Inverness.

“I compared all three universities I got offers from and they were very similar, so I decided to continue my studying with the UHI Inverness as I enjoyed the experience I had during my undergraduate degree. Remaining in Inverness meant I could also be with my family and save money too.”