Students have been celebrating academic success as an annual graduation ceremony was held.
Those studying at Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) were at Hartlepool Art Gallery as the college’s fourth graduation event took place.
A total of 177 students received their certificates in degrees ranging from graphic design, fashion, fine art and photography.
With proud families and friends watching on, the students were recognised for their hard work and academic achievement during their studies in a ceremony attended by dignitaries and teaching staff.
Top of the class were students Kat Sowerby, Molly Watson and Megan Wallace, who all achieved first class degrees in their respective subjects of illustration, production design and costume.
Kat, 36, from Hartlepool, graduated with a BA (Hons) in Illustration for Commercial Application, and has overcome a number of personal challenges to achieve her amazing result.
She didn’t come through the traditional route to higher education, instead taking up the Access to Higher Education course in 2013 and progressing onto the degree.
Kat has also battled with agoraphobia, which she has successfully beaten and has now developed her confidence so much that she is going onto postgraduate study, securing a place at Teesside University for an MA in Concept Art for Animation and Games.
Kat said: “CCAD was literally the turning point during a very turbulent time in my life.
“Back in 2010, after a two-year battle, my mum succumbed to cancer and in the months that followed, the family just fell apart.
“I became really ill for a few months and when I was well again, I found I could only just bare to leave the house but not alone.
“I couldn’t face anyone and didn’t know how to speak about what I was feeling and I lost my job.
“Once that happened, I just fell into that rut.”
After moving house, Kat gave serious thought about the CCAD Access to Higher Education course and saw an adviser at the Job Centre from the Careers Advice Service.
She added: “I knew I had to pull my socks up and get on with my life. Going to CCAD was the best thing I could have done for myself.
“The access course was wonderful, not only in helping my confidence but in preparing me for the work required at that higher level.”
Molly Watson, 20, from Maidenhead, lived in Hartlepool during her study for a BA (Hons) in Production Design for Stage and Screen.
During her studies, she assisted with set dressing for ITV’s hit TV show Victoria, filmed in Hartlepool, as well as placements at Pinewood Creative and The National Theatre.
Molly said: “It feels amazing to graduate, three years of hard work have paid off and it feels real now.
“I won’t have much time to celebrate though as I now have to head home for the New Designers Show, a national exhibition for designers.
“I’m really looking forward to it as it’s an excellent graduate show and a chance to meet potential employers and people in the industry and get my work out there.”