Chesterfield College graduates to parade through town

Chesterfield College graduation ceremony will take place at the Crooked Spire church.
Chesterfield College graduation ceremony will take place at the Crooked Spire church.

Proud graduates will be on parade this week as they celebrate their achievements in higher education.

Around 130 students who have completed their courses at Chesterfield College will be part of a procession through town on Thursday, October 6.

Accompanying the graduates will be the Mayor and Mayoress of Chesterfield, Councillor Steve Brunt and Mrs Jill Mannion-Brunt, college principal Stuart Cutforth, College Corporation chairman Frank Smith, course leaders and representatives from the universities who accredit the courses including Staffordshire University, Sheffield Hallam University and University of Derby.

The parade will leave the town hall at 12.40pm and arrive at the Crooked Spire Church at 1pm for a presentation ceremony.

More than 300 students will receive certificates recognising their achievements in degrees, foundation degrees, Certificate in Education, PGCE, diplomas (including extended and advanced) and Higher National Certificate and Diplomas.

Here several of the graduates share their story:

n Confidence issues never troubled Emma Pellow until three years ago when she started suffering from anxiety.

She was employed in pastoral care in secondary schools, helping underachieving children fulfil their potential and working with gifted and talented children.

Emma, of Clowne Road, Stanfree, said: “I started having anxiety attacks and had to have a lot of time off work. I realised that I wanted to do something for myself and get some confidence back.”

She enrolled on a foundation degree course in criminal justice and joined students at Tapton House which is Chesterfield College’s base for higher education.

Mum of three Emma said: “One of the students who I supported when I was at school was on the course. When I walked in the room he said “Hiya Miss” and thought I was a lecturer.

“I was the oldest student - the others were the same age as my eldest daughter. I was the mum of the group and sometimes I took on the role of rallying the troops and getting them to do their course work on time.

“One girl started the course in September, gave birth in October and came back in November which is an achievement for anybody.”

The course is accredited by the University of Derby and Emma was among the university’s top ten students in social studies, humanities, law and criminology. She received a certificate from the dean of the university in honour of her achievements.

Emma, 38, is currently studying at Derby University with the aim of graduating with a degree in criminology next year. Her daughter Georgina, 20. is also at the university where she is on an occupational therapy course. Emma said: “I’m seeing more of her now than I did in the two years when I was at Chesterfield.”

When she isn’t studying, Emma volunteers with the Youth Offending Team, Derbyshire Police and has started training to be a magistrate.

Juggling family life, course work and volunteering has been easier than she anticipated. Emma said: “At first I didn’t know when I would have time to sleep but I have got my head around time management.

“I couldn’t have done it without my husband Dwayne’s support - he’ll sit up with me until two in the morning and let me read my lectures out to him. He’s even learned to iron.”

n A former Mr Universe who coached footballers in America, launched a strongest man contest in his home town and now works as a technical trainer on fitness related courses is among this year’s graduates of Chesterfield College.

Rob Worthington, 51, has been awarded a first-class honours degree in health related exercise and fitness. He said: “I am very proud. It took a lot of work, but I wanted to make my best attempt - especially since I was coming back to studying after such a long time.”

Originally from Bury in Lancashire, Rob did well in his A-levels at school, went to university to study science but dropped out to set up his own gym which he ran for 15 years.

Rob organised Bury’s Strongest Man Contest in the early Nineties, enabling trainers to try the events that they were used to seeing on the television. He said: “It quickly became very popular and changed into the Northwest Strongest Man.”

In 1991, Rob won the Mr Universe title In Johannesburg after competing against fellow bodybuilders. He said: “This allowed me the opportunity to move to America and work for Gold’s Gym and become a personal trainer.”

He assisted with the strength and conditioning program for the Atlanta Falcons NFL professional football team whilst working as a personal trainer then moved to Las Vegas to work in the gym at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on the Strip.

Rob moved back to England seven years ago and landed employment at Hillsborough College, Sheffield, where he is a technical trainer, delivering practical elements on the fitness related courses.

He lives in Sheffield with his partner Jane, who he met in Atlanta and who he credits as “a great support and motivator during my time as a mature student.”

n Hard work has reaped rewards for family man Joseph Oyedepo who has earned a first-class degree while holding down a full-time job.

He said: “It was very challenging but I’d got the determination to do it. I had to work full-time, study after getting home and most of the time I didn’t get to bed until one or two in the morning. Weekends were virtually full-time study.”

All the effort will be worth it when Joseph picks up his degree in information technology with network, watched by his partner Laura and their three-year-old son Barney.

Joseph, 33, works as a data analyst at CALM Solutions in Staveley, where he has been employed for a year, and has a passion for technology and computers.

He said: “My dad bought me my first laptop when I was twelve and I was more interested in setting it up and getting it installed than operating it.”

Reflecting on his three years at Chesterfield College, he said: “It’s been very rewarding and when you look back, all the work has paid off.”

Joseph, who is of Nigerian origin, and lives in Sheffield, said: “Considering my ethical background, I have had to achieve a little bit more to have a very good chance of competing in the ob market.”

n Psychology student Lauren Newson will be one of the first graduates of a foundation degree course which was launched at Chesterfield College two years ago.

She said: “I got into psychology in the second year of sixth form at Brookfield School and did it at AS level.

“I didn’t feel ready to go to university because I’m close to my family and my boyfriend lives in Sheffield.”

Lauren, 20, of Springfield Avenue, Ashgate, Chesterfield, enrolled for a foundation degree in psychology and health studies which was accredited by the University of Derby. She said: “It was a brand new course and it sounded too good to be true - it sounded like they had made it for me.

“There were about eighteen or so students to start with but the numbers slowly started dropping until there were about twelve or thirteen which meant we got more one to one time with our tutors.”

As part of her studies and to gain work experience, Lauren visited Wetherby Prison, Alpha Hospital mental health unit in Sheffield and Chesterfield Magistrates Court.

Now at Derby University on a psychological studies degree course, she said: “The whole summer I was worried that I wouldn’t be up to their standards - good enough or clever enough to be in the third year but there are some bits that I know more than other students do.”

Lauren is still weighing up career options for this time next year but one area under consideration is education. She said: “When I was at school, I found that mental illness in adolescents isn’t helped as much as I’d like to see - there was a lack of teaching about it. Apart from when I did psychology, no-one ever spoke about it. I don’t want to be a counsellor but I’d like to go into schools and get people to teach a class about mental illness.”