I had the great privilege of joining the Sheffield College graduation yesterday and what a delight it was just to see the joy on their faces.
The Class of 2020 and 2021 came together for the big day, after last year’s was postponed for very obvious reasons.
They were from every corner of the Steel City, all kinds of backgrounds and were handed certificates from a massive range of courses including many at degree level.
The only things they had in common were their happiness at graduating and the city in which they had been educated.
What a crazy couple of years it has been for students. I wonder if they’d have signed up had they known what was coming and I know few of them would have believed they had the focus and determination to pass those exams, when the world was turned upside-down around them.
Their families were beaming with happiness and the whoops of support showed the power which had helped them through. You couldn’t blame those who let loose a tear or two at the immense emotion of such a proud day for them and their city.
It is always lovely to see folk in their gowns and funny hats, having their photos taken at city landmarks. It shines a light on the world-class learning that goes on every day behind closed doors and it offers inspiration to every child in the city.
As the mortarboards flew into the air, it is worth remembering the army of teachers and lecturers who also had to learn to do their jobs in a whole new way.
On a positive, as these year’s graduates turn to their own children and grandchildren over the coming decades they will most likely retain all bragging rights to having had it tough but shown strength and resilience to overcome. That is what this city needs – leaders of the future who are tough but kind, determined to drive change and listen. After all, this city will be theirs for far longer than it will remain ours. How proud we should be of this wonderful place, which holds us like a magnet because of the fabulous people who are Sheffield.