HomeNewsUCOL Graduation A Celebration for Many Whānau

UCOL Graduation A Celebration for Many Whānau

By UCOL on Monday, 08 April 2024

Charlene McGechan

Classmates, friends, whānau and a few tears - UCOL Whanganui Te Pūkenga gathered them all as 188 ākonga (students) celebrated their graduation yesterday.

Across the four campuses in Whanganui, Manawatū, Wairarapa, and Horowhenua, a total of 1,329 graduates will be eligible to cross the stage.

Among them was this year's Valedictorian - Charlene McGechan, graduating with her Bachelor of Nursing.

"It just feels surreal," says McGechan. "I'm the first in my family to hold a degree and with that came sacrifices I had to make along the way.  I only hope for my children and other Pasifika women to be inspired to become better versions of themselves and to embrace the opportunities we have here in New Zealand."

McGechan said that when she was told she had been named as Valedictorian, she was overwhelmed. "It was huge news. In that moment, my late parents came to mind. It was already an achievement to get a degree but to be given the honour of Valedictorian is humbling.

"It's also quite a bittersweet feeling. UCOL became like my home away from home, I spent long nights studying there. Everybody knew each other by name, the staff were helpful and so supportive - I'll miss being there everyday."

During the ceremony, the largest Whanganui cohort was for those who had completed their Bachelor of Nursing, with 35 graduates. Also celebrating were two Masters students.

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Jasmine Groves, Operations Lead says UCOL is delighted with the accomplishments of all their graduates. "This is such a special moment for our ākonga - to have their efforts recognised and celebrate with whānau and friends all that they achieved. It can feel like an ending but it's actually the opposite. This is us celebrating the beginning of their careers, and all that they will go out and do with the skills they have learned."

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