The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) hosted its first combined Higher Education Graduation Ceremony at Greenmount Campus.
The event brought together degree students from across the three campuses of Enniskillen, Loughry and Greenmount, to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2023.
Martin McKendry, College Director welcomed Gill Gallagher, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association as Guest Speaker to the event. Also on the Platform Party were Katrina Godfrey (Permanent Secretary, DAERA), who chaired the ceremony, Dr Susan Doherty, Queen’s University Belfast and Professor Aine McKillop, Ulster University.
Mr McKendry remarked: “CAFRE has long established strategic partnerships with both universities, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank both institutions for your continued support to our degree programmes.”
Graduation Day is the highlight of the academic calendar which recognises the work and commitment of CAFRE students. Mr McKendry commented as he looked at the graduates before him: “I think the breadth of your smiles are only matched by your parents, guardians, partners, family and CAFRE staff seated around the hall. Today is special for them too. I hope you enjoyed your time at CAFRE and are now looking forward to a fantastic career within agriculture, equine, food and horticulture.
“I have no doubt that over the next years there will be science and technology challenges which will heavily influence your careers. The education which you have received at CAFRE will place you in a very strong position to compete successfully and play your part from day one.”
Mr McKendry encouraged the graduates to consider the day as a stepping-stone on their path of knowledge and learning and not as a milestone in their academic career. He urged them to continue to learn and to develop themselves to help distinguish them from their peers.
CAFRE as a knowledge-centric organisation is well placed to support those working in the agri-food and rural sectors. CAFRE’s uniqueness as an organisation is demonstrated by the fact, that some of the graduates began their CAFRE journey as a 16-year-old, studying on a Level 2 or Level 3 course, and have now qualified with Higher Education BSc (Honours) Degree qualifications.
The ceremony celebrated the graduation from the first cohorts of Honours Degree in Horticulture and Degree Apprenticeship in Food and Drink Manufacture courses. These students used the new courses as an opportunity to enhance their previously completed Foundation Degree level qualifications through CAFRE.
Gill Gallagher, reflected on her fourteen years since she sat as a graduate, and inspired CAFRE graduates saying: “Imagine driving along the scenic route of a long and winding road, with a stunning backdrop of mountains to one side and a beautiful coastline to the other. It might take longer to get to your destination, but the beauty of the drive makes it worth it.
“That’s how I view my career path to date. Everything is going to work out exactly how it is meant to, provided you are willing to work hard and have the determination to seek out opportunities that await you.”
In concluding his address Mr McKendry encouraged the graduates to celebrate their achievements, not just today, but throughout their careers; to keep in touch with each other and the College through CAFRE Alumni and be proud of their achievements, because CAFRE is very proud of their attainments.
For further information on CAFRE courses and the careers which they lead to, visit the CAFRE website or follow Discover CAFRE on social media.
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