HUNDREDS of graduates celebrated their moment of gowning glory with a parade through Doncaster town centre.
Scores of students of all ages donned their caps and gowns and paraded from Doncaster College to Doncaster Minster to toast their study success.
And among them was former Sheffield Wednesday ace Richie Barker who studied at the centre a couple of years ago.
Barker, now boss of League One promotion hopefuls Crawley Town and who played for Doncaster Rovers, Brighton, Rotherham and Mansfield, returned to his academic roots to attend the ceremony as a guest speaker.
He said: “Just over two years ago, I went for an interview at Bury FC. I was informed I was successful and that I was to be offered the job.
“Once I accepted, I threw the question ‘what set me apart from the other candidates?’
“They told me I was the only one who was interviewed who had a a degree. With a thirst for learning and with hard work and dedication, study can lead to success.”
Those words were echoed by Andrew Hill who attended yesterday’s graduation ceremony with proud mum Jill.
Andrew, 22, of Town Moor, was collecting his degree in creative music technology and said: “It is a really special moment. I’ve really enjoyed the course and it has been a great opportunity to develop my skills - and the teaching has been outstanding.”
Mum Jill said: “I am very proud of him. I’ve been there to help every step of the way - including reading his dissertation on the night before it was due!”
Also celebrating her success was Georgina Clarke, 22, of Rotherham, who passed her fine arts and crafts degree after three years of hard graft.
She said: “I’ve always liked art but never knew you could do art at Doncaster and I am hoping to become a teacher now I’ve graduated.
“I have really enjoyed my time here and made some great friends.”
Course mates Pam Custers and Lorebana Ania were both toasting their success in passing their masters in relationship therapy - and were backed by family and friends for their big day.
Pam said: “I feel a huge sense of achievement, excitement and pride. But it is also slightly tinged with sadness that I have finished the course. It has been an exhilarating journey.”
Lorebana admitted completing the course had given her a new lease of life and a new career, switching from her previous profession of teaching to take up a role in counselling.
She said: “It has been very intensive and hard work and it is quite scary to see the amount of work and books I’ve got through in the past few years.
“But age is not a barrier to learning. Once you are committed to learning your brain adapts and you learn many exciting new things. I would encourage anyone to do it.”
The three-day graduation ceremony at University College Doncaster celebrated students’ successes in humanities, social sciences, education, sports science and a host of other courses including advanced technology and commercial enterprise.