106 success stories at Durham Cathedral graduation ceremony

Dream jobs, career changes and university places. Just some of the positive outcomes for the graduates of Bishop Auckland College’s higher education class of 2023.

HE ceremony 2023

On Thursday night, HE students picked up their scrolls after years of study in subjects ranging from art and engineering to career guidance, counselling, healthcare, music, sociology and criminology, sport and teaching.

They included Ben I’Anson, who achieved a First Class BSc (Hons) in Sports Coaching with a stunning 82% overall mark. The 24-year-old, from Darlington, has since secured his dream job as a PE & School Sport Coordinator with Education Enterprise Legacy.

Ben I Anson HE

He said: “Having wanted to pursue a career in sport from a young age, Bishop Auckland College has helped me secure this dream with the fantastic opportunities they have provided me with. The help, support and challenge the lecturers have given me has been unbelievable and I’d recommend the course and Bishop Auckland College to anyone.”

Higher education also proved the prescription for success for James Garland, who was recruited by global pharmaceutical giant GSK as an engineering technician at its Barnard Castle plant after passing his Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Engineering at the college’s specialist engineering and plumbing centre South West Durham Training.

James Garland

James, 23, from Shildon, said: “I enjoyed the course; the tutors made it enjoyable despite me being much more of a practical-minded person as opposed to classroom-based. Passing this course has allowed me to become an engineering technician at GSK.”

After 20 years in the hospitality sector, Michelle Dodds has secured a new career working with children in schools after graduating with a degree in counselling.

The mother-of-two, aged 39, from Newton Aycliffe, described her time studying the BA (Hons) in Integrative Counselling Practice as “one of the best decisions I ever made”.

Michelle Dodds

She said: “I have established a whole new career to take forward and continue to grow with. The knowledge I have gained has been vital to support me on this journey. I have secured a counselling role within schools working with children and it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to support children in such a huge developmental stage of their lives and help to maintain their wellbeing.”

Meanwhile Bethany Beard has her sights set on an art degree at university after passing her Level 5 Higher National Diploma (HND) in Art and Design.

The 23-year-old, from Crook, said: “The college truly felt like a second home rather than just a place of study. This course has provided me with a higher level qualification that will greatly benefit me in my pursuit of a BA (Hons) degree.”

Bethany Beard

Principal and Chief Executive of Bishop Auckland College Natalie Davison-Terranova told the graduates one of the most influential moments in her own educational journey was when she was in her first year at university in 1990.

Nelson Mandela, having been released from prison after 27 years just a few months earlier, made his famous speech to a packed hall at a school in Boston, Massachusetts, in which he said ‘education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to prepare our youth for their role as leaders of tomorrow’ - an inspirational address that “perfectly captures what learning means to me”, she said.

Joy Allen 2

Passing on key insights from her own education and career, guest speaker Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen (pictured) added: “Embrace the power of passion of the subject that you love. Find what truly ignites your interest and pursue it relentlessly. Remember, success is not solely measured by external achievements but by the fulfilment and happiness you derive from your work.”

In all there were 106 students who passed their higher education programmes last summer, including HNCs, HNDs, Diplomas, Foundation Degrees, Honours Degrees and teacher training qualifications.


Former graduates who want to join the college's higher education alumni group can do so by emailing alumni@bacoll.ac.uk.

For information about HE courses at the college visit bacoll.ac.uk or register to attend our next open evening on Tuesday October 24 from 5pm to 7pm at https://bacoll.ac.uk/Events/openeventoctober23.

Photos by Barry Pells.