TELEVISION presenter and science champion Kate Bellingham has inspired graduates as they celebrated their achievement at Havering College.
Kate - who presented the BBC flagship programme Tomorrow's World and ITV's Big Bang - was the guest of honour at a double graduation ceremony at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch, Greater London.
Celebrations were held in the afternoon and evening to mark the success of students who have completed higher level courses at the college and are advancing their careers in everything from social work to engineering and graphic design to child care and teaching.
Havering College principal Maria Thompson said: "Every student has done incredibly well, achieving something very special, often juggling their studies in the context of full time or part time jobs and a very busy family life."
Conferring the awards, Kate Bellingham told graduates: "These qualifications will help you be what you can be – they are a springboard. I believe you will each build your own amazing, individual springboard, you will be wonderful role models and create the future you want to see."
Havering College of Further and Higher Education is the sole provider of higher education in the London Borough of Havering and offers more than 30 higher education high quality programmes which include degrees, post graduate qualifications, HNC and HND courses. Fees are lower than those of universities, class sizes are smaller and students receive more individual tutor contact time.
This year's success stories include nine Ford employees who achieved a B.Eng (Hons) in Automotive Engineering.
They are: Dzmitry Bardhziuhov, 27, from Barking; Dmitry Belyakov, 29, from Stevenage; Robert Butterfield, 25, from Brentwood; Scott Hodges, 23, from Wickford; Daniel Lickman, 23, from Wickford; Daniel Mills, 31, from Billericay; Richard Rippengale, 23, from Wickford; Ian Russell, 32, from Ilford and Ryan Smith, 28, from Sawbridgeworth.
Ford guest Chris Taylor, a senior engineer Ford's Dunton Technical Centre, said: "Watching these young people go through the apprenticeship programme and get their degrees as they further their engineering careers is fantastic."
The careers of the Ford graduates are now motoring ahead with one former apprentice, Scott Hodges, about to head out to Russia to help set up a new production plant.
Scott, 23, from Wickford, said: "Today's graduation means a lot to me. I joined Ford at 16, straight from school and convinced friends an apprenticeship was the way to go. My family are really proud of me. It's been full time at Ford with one day a week day release at Havering College where I was really impressed by the teaching. My ambition is to progress as far as I can within Ford Motor Company and I will possibly move on to a masters in the future.
"The Russian project is a lot of responsibility but it's really exciting. I am getting to travel the world and see places I would not normally see."
Among the students celebrating the successful completion of higher level studies at the college is Shamin Jumba.
Shamin, 22, from Romford, gained a BA (Hons) in Three Dimensional Design.
Shamin has launched her own design company, Fena Design, after undertaking a commission at a BUPA care home to create a relaxation space for residents with Dementia.
Shamin said: My graduation is like stepping into a new world. Becoming an interior designer and launching my own business is fantastic."
Walking across the stage to college his scroll was a proud and magnificent moment for Ross Bruty, 22, from Harold Hill, who achieved a BA (Hons) in Music Performance & Technology.
Ross, who openly declares his autism, said: "I would recommend Havering College. The support students receive is fantastic. For anyone who has got any disability, if you have the skills or talent, I would say 'don't listen to what others may say, come to Havering College and follow your dreams'."
Aisha Salum, who is celebrating a BA in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy, would like to continue with her studies and train as a social worker.
Residential home worker Aisha, 44, from Dagenham, said: "Today's graduation means a lot because I have achieved something in my 40s that I never thought I would do. My family and friends are very happy for me. There have been times when I have said I would give up but they have encouraged me to go on. I could not have done it without their support."