We were so happy to finally be able to hold a graduation to celebrate the achievements of our amazing students – the first one at Blackburne House since the pandemic hit. For our learners, it was an opportunity to come together and reflect on all the hard work they have done over the year, as well as have some fun, food and even a boogie!
At Blackburne House, we are proud of all of our learners who come to us from all walks of life to transform their lives through education. Our student community is made up of women from all over the world and we were extremely proud that this years’ celebration reflected that as we had guest speakers and performers from Canada, Germany, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Africa.
Aurelie Thalmensi, one of our student speakers this year, is a perfect example of how women can change their lives through education. Aurelie left France to start a new life in Liverpool after suffering discrimination for her faith. There were a lot of misty eyes in the room as Aurelie told us her story, and how she found happiness in Liverpool and at Blackburne House. She first came to Blackburne House in 2020 when she gained her ESOL and Functional Skills qualifications. She is now awaiting her results for her GCSE Maths, English, Level 2 Business Studies and Employability qualifications.
Our second student speaker, Lordina Torkornoo, was equally inspiring as she told us all about how she completed her degree during the height of the pandemic but then struggled with where her journey would take her next. After completing the Counselling course at Blackburne House, Lordina has found a new purpose, and is aspiring to become a Counsellor and help others to improve their lives.
Molly Harvey FRSA, Author of ‘Seconds Away from Outstanding Leadership’ was our key note speaker and she wasted no time in engaging our students and motivating them with her rousing speech. Sharing her own incredible personal journey, Molly inspired the room to reflect, celebrate and act, empowering them to maintain the momentum and plan for their next steps.
We were thrilled to welcome Movema, an award-winning social enterprise dance company run by 4 female artists from diverse cultural backgrounds, to our graduation this year. They helped us to celebrate in style by getting our learners up and dancing – and a few brave ones even took to the stage to show off their moves!
The graduation celebration at Blackburne House celebrates not only the academic achievements of the learners, but also the personal growth that they undergo during their time with us. This year, we presented a Student of the Year certificate to align with each of our four Values: Transformation, Inspiration, Equality and Independence. The four learners who won these awards have strived to better themselves through education while also overcoming issues such as seeking asylum, mental health difficulties and addiction. It was an honour to be able to shine a light on these women and celebrate their growth.
Our final award of the day was the Gill Dulgarn award. The Gill Dulgarn was introduced for the first time this year as a tribute to the memory of Gill Dulgarn, our much-loved colleague, friend, and teacher. The Gill Dulgarn award was presented to Janine Grafflin for all of her hard work and dedication to her studies and her classmates.
Our Chief Executive Office, Anne McColl, summed up the celebration wholly in her closing remarks: ‘It’s an absolute joy to feel the energy in the room today, to celebrate and rejoice in the sense of triumph, to laugh, to cry and to feel immensely proud of every single person... whilst we create an inclusive environment and provide these opportunities, it would be nothing without the amazing women who come to study with us. We are humbled and honoured to be a part of your journey and we applaud your tenacity, resilience and determination to succeed with your studies.’
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Congratulations, class of 2022!
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