THE outstanding achievements of over 400 Degree, Foundation Degree, HNC and Postgraduate students from Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s three colleges were celebrated at a ceremony marking the end of the academic year.

On Friday, representatives from the colleges’ associate and partner universities in both England and Wales officiated at the Graduation Ceremony, at a sun-baked Venue Cymru in Llandudno, in front of a full house of 1,500 students, families and friends.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai comprises Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and currently has around 1,200 Higher Education students studying on 50 different degree courses, with over 400 students graduating each year, many with first-class honours.

Not only did Gareth Smith from Rhuddlan graduate with a BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering degree, but he has also recently been appointed as Deputy Mayor of his hometown too.

Gareth, who is employed by global engineering, management and development consultancy Mott MacDonald, now plans to study for a Master’s degree and apply for a chartership with the Institute of Civil Engineers.

Emma Williams from Rhyl graduated with a First-Class Honours degree in Management of Travel & Tourism. She completed her BTEC Level 3 Travel & Tourism course at the college, before going on to university.

Unfortunately, university didn’t suit Emma, so she returned to Coleg Llandrillo to study for her degree. She also works at Hays Travel in Colwyn Bay.

She said: “I have never been so determined as I have been over the last three years completing this degree. I would like to achieve a teacher training qualification so that I can pass on my knowledge and experience of the industry, as our tutors have done for us.

"They have been amazing: you feel supported all the way and never feel that you are just a number.”

Paul Cornes from Prestatyn gained a Foundation Degree in 3D Animation & Games Development and will be enrolling on the BSc (Hons) ‘top-up’ course in September. He currently works part-time running his own landscape gardening business, which he has done for nine years.

For the twenty years prior to that, Paul was employed at several large UK IT companies in various roles, such as analyst programmer and integration architect.

He said: “I had self-taught myself to use landscape gardening design software to create 3D models of new gardens for customers. As I found this to be an enjoyable task, I wondered about the future possibilities of virtual reality environments.

“Whilst looking at the college prospectus for possible educational opportunities for my son, I realised that the 3D Animation and Games Development modules would provide the skills that I needed to create virtual environments of a professional standard.

"I would now like to work in the field of virtual/augmented reality. My desire is to digitally reconstruct Welsh monuments such as castles, in order to create an interactive virtual tour, to show people what these structures would have looked like when original built and occupied.”