WCFE graduates urged to “seize the moment”

Waterford College of Further Education held its Graduation ceremony for 2017 at the WIT Arena last week.
Hundreds of students graduated from over 30 full-time day courses for a night that ranks as the pinnacle of the WCFE’s annual event calendar.The event was a collaboration of bright optimism and positivity. An impressive top table asserted that Waterford was a force to be reckoned with on the economic stage, and that WCFE graduates would be major players in the growing economy.

The Graduation follows the recent, highly publicised launch of the WCFE Strategic Plan for 2020, which sets out impressive plans for expansion across six areas, including course provision and accommodation.
The Plan was very much present in the speeches made by guests, as was the importance of a positive attitude and the need to grasp the opportunities that are on the way.Paul Nolan, the President of Waterford Chamber said that he was relying on the graduates of 2017 to drive on the economy and future of Waterford.
The Chief Executive of the Waterford Wexford Education Training Board, Kevin Lewis, spoke with great enthusiasm for the future, urging graduates to, “seize the moment”, and, “believe in yourselves, you can achieve”.

The splendid setting of the WIT Arena, which hosted the WCFE Graduation Ceremony on Thursday last. 							| Photos: Noel Browne

The splendid setting of the WIT Arena, which hosted the WCFE Graduation Ceremony on Thursday last. | Photos: Noel Browne


He said that approximately 30,000 people had graduated from Further Education (FE) this year and that FE qualifications were currently some of the most valued qualifications in the employment market.
Referring to the recently published WCFE Strategic Plan for 2020, Mr Lewis said that he was pleased that it was so “learner focused” and mentioned the importance of new facilities and accommodation for the College as part of its development going forward. This newspaper met some who had graduated from WCFE in previous years, many of whom provided inspirational talks at the ‘Grad’ ceremony.
Hairdressing graduates Chloe Anderson, Kelly McKenna, Talia Murphy and Chantelle Briscoe.

Hairdressing graduates Chloe Anderson, Kelly McKenna, Talia Murphy and Chantelle Briscoe.


Among them was Keith Cooney from Gracedieu, who graduated with an advanced cert in Business. Initially he didn’t have enough points for WIT, but he eventually got there two years. A further two years on from that, he received an Honours Business Degree, followed by a Masters in Marketing. He is now based in Naas working for cosmetics firm Euro Sales, having worked for Paddy Power previously. We also spoke to Bonnie Saiubon, a native of Thailand who graduated with a WCFE Social Studies qualification and works now with people with disabilities. Former Waterford Crystal blower Brian Cuddihy from Ursuline Court left school at 16 to go into ‘The Glass’ before advancing into Social Work at third level. And having worked as a volunteer, Brian is now a full-time employee on the Garda Youth Divergent programme, which assists juveniles in difficulty.
Hairdressing graduates Talia Murphy and Kelly McKenna.

Hairdressing graduates Talia Murphy and Kelly McKenna.


Addressing graduates, City & County Mayor Pat Nugent (FG) praised the quality of the courses and the college itself, noting its long history of serving education in Waterford, going back to 1906. Student numbers at present are approximately 1300, between part-time and full-time attendants; most courses are two years in duration and provide a “stepping stone” to WIT and other third level colleges and university programmes.
Kevin Lewis (WWETB CEO), Cllr Cha O’Neill (WCFE Board of Management), Gerry Doyle, Mick Normoyle (Vice-Principal, WCFE), Cllr Lola O’Sullivan (Chairperson, Board of Management, WCFE), Mayor of Waterford City & County Council, Cllr Pat Nugent, Senator Grace O’Sullivan, Mark Fitzgerald (WCFE Board of Management), Paul Nolan (President, Waterford Chamber), John Wall (WIT) and Gerard Morgan (Principal, WCFE).

Kevin Lewis (WWETB CEO), Cllr Cha O’Neill (WCFE Board of Management), Gerry Doyle, Mick Normoyle (Vice-Principal, WCFE), Cllr Lola O’Sullivan (Chairperson, Board of Management, WCFE), Mayor of Waterford City & County Council, Cllr Pat Nugent, Senator Grace O’Sullivan, Mark Fitzgerald (WCFE Board of Management), Paul Nolan (President, Waterford Chamber), John Wall (WIT) and Gerard Morgan (Principal, WCFE).


As we note on News 11, Mayor Nugent advised the younger graduates to talk more and not rely on phone texts, Facebook and technology for communications, before he wished them all every good wish in their future endeavours. Closing the event the Principal, Gerard Morgan congratulated the graduates and described the graduation as a ,”really momentous occasion.” He urged them to be, “personal ambassadors for WCFE”, saying that the future looked bright for both WCFE and Waterford itself. He said that there was “a new beginning in the South East as employment is picking up”, and that the graduates were going into the world at just the right time.Referring back to the WCFE Strategic Plan, he outlined the core vision for the College for the next three years, citing WCFE staff as a key asset to the success of the College and achieving the objectives in the plan.”Our accommodation issues will be addressed very soon”, he stated.

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