First class Teesside Mum graduates as class valedictorian

15 November 2021

 A Teesside mum who chose to go back to education is among hundreds of learners to graduate from Middlesbrough College this week.

Miriam Markie, 50, from Ormesby in Middlesbrough, originally enrolled on a Level 3 Childcare and Education course with the College, when the qualification became a requirement for her role as a childminder.

She enjoyed college so much that she stayed on to complete a BA degree, studying part-time alongside her full-time job.

She’s one of 263 higher education students from Middlesbrough College who are now embarking on exciting careers in teaching, engineering and travel, among many others.

Miriam, who was named class valedictorian, said: “I was initially quite worried about going back into education, mainly because it had been so long, but once I completed my Level 3, I seemed to get a buzz from studying again.

“I enjoyed my time at the College so much that I decided to stay on and study for my degree. I’m now in my final year studying for a Masters degree in Early Childhood Studies alongside my new job as a lead practitioner in a nursery – both of which wouldn’t have been possible without the support I’ve received at the College.”

Inspired by her time at the College, Miriam hopes to gain a teaching qualification and go on to inspire others to fulfil their ambitions.

After giving her valedictory speech, she said: “At first, I was slightly nervous and could feel my knees shaking and voice going but I was prepared and settled into it.

“I couldn’t believe that I had even been chosen but it was the perfect way to celebrate my achievements.”

Other graduates included high-flying travel student Benjamat Race who moved to Redcar from Thailand in 2017.

Benjamat Race

The 21-year-old, who spoke very little English when she moved to the region, achieved a first-class Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Airport and Airline Passenger Management, having already achieved an English GCSE and the Retrain to Travel Level 3 programme at the College.

She said: “I’m very proud to be the first student to achieve a first-class honour in this degree – I’ve had the best experience at Middlesbrough College and I would 100 per cent recommend studying here, it has changed my life!”

21-year-old Connor Gibson from Ingleby Barwick was also part of the celebrations taking place at the Town Hall, having achieved a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Engineering (Mechanical Engineering).

Connor Gibson

His qualification, which was validated through Pearson, was partially sponsored by his employer, Mitie Plastics, where he works part-time as a toolmaker alongside his studies. He plans to stay at the College and complete his Higher National Diploma (HND) qualification.

He said: “I have gained a lot on this course, and I am putting the valuable skills I have learnt from my qualification into my role at work every day.”

The face-to-face celebration allowed graduates and their families to recognise their achievements in a prestigious ceremony.

The university level qualifications included Foundation Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees, Masters Degrees, Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, with most validated by the Open University and Pearson Education, with some awards validated by Teesside University.

As well as expert teaching and first-class facilities, Middlesbrough College delivers jobs-focused, flexible, affordable learning that equips students with the skills and knowledge that employers need. And the student experience is different from a traditional university, with smaller class sizes meaning more contact time with tutors.

Many of the higher education programmes at the Ofsted-rated Good College are available to study on a full and part-time basis too, giving students the flexibility to study around their work and home life commitments.   

I'm very proud to be the first student to achieve a first-class honour in this degree – I’ve had the best experience at Middlesbrough College and I would 100 per cent recommend studying here, it has changed my life!
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