More than 5,800 students have graduated from Cardiff University this Summer at the annual graduation ceremonies. Here some of them reflect on their time at Cardiff.
School of Medicine student David Davies has undertaken new research into autism whilst studying for this degree. David, from Swansea, is a first-language Welsh speaker whose extra-curricular research into the condition has been published in professional medical journals. The story of his family’s struggle with autism (David helps to look after two younger sisters with the disability) is soon to be featured in a book called What’s The Matter With Jennifer? (Alun Books). The book has also recently been staged as a play in Swansea.
David said: "Studying at Cardiff University has given me an insight into doctors’ points of view when dealing with cases like ours. Parents are usually either angry with doctors, who they think don’t care, or they praise everything the doctors do. Now I understand that there is only so much money and doctors only have so much time."
The 23-year-old plans to continue researching and looking for cures "To do things that haven’t been done before." He hopes to become a surgeon in Cardiff.
73-year-old Barbara Michaels, a grandmother of six, is following in the footsteps of her oldest granddaughter, Jackie and providing inspiration to her other grandchildren.
Barbara originally gained entrance to university when she was seventeen, over half a century ago, but decided instead to pursue a career in journalism. Returning to studying for her degree, the septuagenarian carried on with freelance magazine work and had short stories published worldwide. After studying at the University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning, Barbara was encouraged by her tutor to start a degree scheme. She explains: "I said, ‘What? At my age?" But the tutor said ‘Why not?’ So I did."
Asked of the benefits of studying in the throes of retirement Barbara said, "It’s been immensely, immensely beneficial; in lots of different ways, not just in terms of my own knowledge - to be able to mix with young minds is fantastic."
Barbara has flown gliders and gone up in a balloon with a group of paratroopers, but still says studying for her degree was one of her hardest challenges yet.
Barbara said she would definitely recommend that other people her age look at doing a degree. " It makes you use your mind. When you’re younger your memory is much sharper - I had to constantly keep going over and over my notes. I really couldn’t advocate it enough."
Returning to study
Single mum of two Debbie Giffard will graduate with a degree from the School of Social Sciences. Despite a three hour commute from her home in Abertillery, Gwent, Debbie managed to successfully manage the switch from part-time shop assistant in her local Woolworth’s to full-time student..
Debbie said: "I chose Cardiff University because it was quite close. I did so thinking that I wouldn’t get in. I did an Access course and I said ‘give me six months’ but I never stopped," said Debbie.
Debbie attended is now undertaking voluntary work with domestic violence and drug misuse victims, and plans to enter the probation sector next year.
Dominic Masson, from Cilcain in Flintshire is starting his first job at Ruthin Dental Centre in Denbighshire and stressed the need for Welsh dental students to stay and work in Wales.
Dominic said: "It’s essential that those originating from, or training in Wales continue to work here. They provides a service in areas that are in need of greater NHS dental provision, as well as repaying the country that has invested in their education and future. In fact a number of the Welsh health authorities offer bursaries to students to encourage them to return and provide NHS dental treatment after graduation."
Masson also spoke of the advantages of studying dentistry at Cardiff Univesity: "It’s extremely important (to study in Wales). It provided treatment within the hospital and via outreach schemes to people from less advantaged areas. And those from outside Wales were able to see the opportunities and many positive aspects of working here."
Julie Nobes has completed her part-time degree a year early whilst also running two local companies. Julie, a mother of three, studied a part-time English Literature degree at the School of English, Communication and Language where she was expected to graduate in six years but with hard work managed it in five, succeeding in her studies whilst also running an industrial cleaning company with 20 members of staff, launching a children’s book company and helping her three children though their GCSEs and A-Levels.
Julie’s book company, Bright Ideas, has been a massive success. Julie writes the books which are available in English and Welsh, with demand outweighing supply for the Welsh versions.
Graduate Owain Wynne travelled to Romania to help in a local orphanage during his studies. He was awarded the Peter Kirk memorial scholarship, given to students wishing to develop understanding of Europe. Owain used the scholarship to travel to Romania for three months to work with and study the country’s orphanages. Owain also analysed the effect EU integration would have on Romania’s socially excluded.
The 22-year-old from Llandysul, Carmarthenshire will graduate with a degree in Sociology and History. Owain praised the work of his own School and Cardiff’s Dyslexia Unit for helping him to complete his studies. He described the unit as, "Absolutely amazing."
Few students achieve first class degrees from university - it’s even rarer when a whole family do it. School of Biosciences student Philippa Owen from the Wirral will match her sister and parents’ achievements when she graduates with first class honours. Philippa, whose elder sister graduated from Bangor, celebrated with her parents and boyfriend at a family barbecue. After graduation Philippa will be heading to Surrey’s Institute of Cancer Research (in Sutton) as a scientific officer.
Cardiff School of Biosciences
For more information on graduation visit:
All of the graduation ceremonies for 2006 are now available for viewing in the 2006 Archive at Graduation Webcast
Send a graduation ecard: http://ecards.cardiff.ac.uk/graduation.html