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More than 150 NorthTec graduates shared their delight with family, friends and community when they paraded through Whangarei town centre as part of the annual graduation ceremony.
There were two separate ceremonies, both held at Forum North, for students graduating with a diploma, and those being conferred with degrees. Both groups joined forces for the traditional march through the town, led by the sound of bagpipes and joined by Whangarei Mayor, Sheryl Mai and guest speaker for the day, rugby league legend, Graham Lowe.
Valedictorians were Far North-based business graduate Nancy Te Whata (degree) and applied writing graduate Rae Nicholl (diploma), who lives in Wellington but studied online and travelled to Whangarei for the event.
NorthTec Chair, Vern Dark, told the graduates the day was the chance to celebrate both their successes and the sacrifices they had made to complete their studies. He said: “You should be very proud of yourselves. Congratulations to your families too, because your support has made it possible. This is a time for celebration and reflection, for recognising those who have contributed to your success.
Mr Dark added: “I want to thank you for choosing to study at NorthTec. You have had an opportunity to obtain a world-class education without leaving the region. Remember, there are no short cuts to any place that’s worth going.”
Guest speaker Graham Lowe said that during his career he had stood in front of crowds of 100,000 rugby fans at places like Wembley Stadium. “But to get the privilege to talk to you all on such a special day surpasses everything.”
Mr Lowe, who left school aged 14, said he envied the students their achievements and said they had inspired him. “I wonder what it must feel like to have achieved what you have achieved and made so many sacrifices for. It must feel wonderful.
“The most important things in life that you are going to face now cannot be measured. That is your will, your determination and your imagination. They are the sort of things that will take you to the next level.
“The things that you have achieved academically are fantastic. But no matter what you have learned, nothing is going to beat the power of saying please and thank you. Do not forget the old-fashioned values that your mum and dad have taught you. If you keep those then anything can happen. I envy you so much and I congratulate you so much.”
Diploma valedictorian, Rae Nicholl, said: “I had heard a great deal about the writing courses on offer in New Zealand but none of them appealed to me. I knew exactly what I wanted and trawled the internet, searching for the right one. I can say now that North Tec’s on-line Advanced Applied Writing course matched my criteria perfectly.
“I was in a small class with serious, mature students, talented writers, all of them. We built up a rapport, communicating freely about our projects over the web, supporting each other with sensitive criticism and suggestions for improvement. My tutor, Dr Susy Pointon, gave me enormous encouragement as well as excellent advice.”
Degree valedictorian, Nancy Te Whata, told the audience: “We graduates all made a life-changing choice some time ago, to further our education, make a career change or follow our passion and NorthTec has enabled us to do this in Northland.
“My very first exam here at NorthTec, I failed. This was because I didn’t know how to retain information. The most important skill we all have here today, is that we know how to learn. This will carry us through life.”
At this year’s ceremony, held on Friday (6 March), 102 graduates were eligible for diplomas, and 150 were eligible for degrees.
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