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Graduation 2007

Founder of the Child Bereavement Trust, Jenni Thomas OBE, and inventor and entrepreneur Trevor Baylis OBE, were amongst the distinguished individuals who were honoured at graduation ceremonies which took place at the Wycombe Swan Theatre in September. Jenni’s work with grieving families, whilst nursing on special care baby units and children’s wards, and later as a counsellor, led her to develop an acute awareness of the problems faced by bereaved families and the professionals who care for them. Her career reflects her personal mission to take this work forward. In 1994 she founded The Child Bereavement Trust which has its own dedicated centre in West Wycombe and offers specialised training to healthcare and other professionals to enable them to help grieving families. Jenni’s training materials include videos that have received British Medical Association awards for educational merit.

Jenni Thomas & Jaki Smart

Hospitality was provided by the Students’ Union who served over 21,000 canapés. Honorary degrees were also bestowed upon: Matt Dawson MBE, Rugby World Cup winner and former London Wasps player.

Canapés anyone? Chef Manager Paul Goodall Trevor Baylis’ early career was diverse; he worked as a stunt man, escapologist, physical education instructor for the Army, and proprietor of his own swimming pool company. Inspired by a television programme on AIDS in Africa he invented the clockwork radio; the first working prototype was featured on the Tomorrow’s World TV programme. In 1997 he was awarded an OBE for his services to Africa, and featured in an edition of This Is Your Life. The honorary graduates received awards alongside our own successful university students as they were presented with their degree certificates in the presence of family and friends. Buckinghamshire New University’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Services, Planning and Enhancement), David Gay, said: “The honorary conferments recognise the outstanding achievements of the recipients in their particular fields. The recipients have been chosen as an inspiration both to the graduating students and the students that will come after them. We are delighted that they have accepted our invitation to be associated with us in this way.”

Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue GCVO MA FBA FSA, Surveyor Emeritus of The Queen’s Works of Art Professor Shan Fan, Professor of Art and International President at the International School of Communication Design, Beijing Normal University. Henrik B Nielsen, member of the Roskilde Festival’s management committee, and vice-chairman of Festival Danmark, the Danish music festival association. Bryan Long, former Chairman of South Bucks NHS Trust, and a University Council member, received an honorary fellowship. The ceremonies were also attended by a range of distinguished speakers: Professor Jeremy Myerson, professor of design studies and director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the Royal College of Art, London. Miles Templeman, Director General of the Institute of Directors. Mike Smith, Managing Director of Columbia Records, Luke Ritner, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Dance.

Professor Sir Roderick Floud, President of London Metropolitan University, and Vice-President of the European University Association. Bryan Mills, Chairman of ServiceTec Global Services Ltd. Christopher Cloke, Head of Child Protection Awareness and Diversity at the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Vice President of the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, and Chair of the AntiBullying Alliance. Nick Gargan, Assistant Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police. Trevor Baylis & Ruth Farwell


Our sincere congratulations go to this year’s graduating students. All of our students have a tale to tell, and to follow are a few of the truly inspirational success stories from 2007. First in her family to graduate

achieved. Anything is possible through hard work, dedication and determination.”

Supriya Taggar, from Hillingdon, secured a high flying job in the City even before she had finished her final year at Buckinghamshire New University. Now she is based on the 20th floor of Tower 42, London’s tallest building, with one of the City’s leading investment companies, and is set to write a book to encourage Asian girls to pursue their dreams.

Looking ahead, Supriya remains full of drive and energy. Her long term aim is to set up her own business. Meanwhile, she is keeping herself busy by writing a book: “I want to explain what Indian girls like myself have to go through, and how difficult it is for us. The aim of my book is to give other girls help and confidence in life.”

Supriya, who is 22, is the youngest in a family of four children, and the first to graduate. However her path to a BA (Hons) in Marketing hasn’t been an easy one, and involved juggling two part-time jobs as well as caring for her

“Anything is possible through hard work, dedication and determination.” mother who was recuperating after an operation. Nevertheless all her hard work and dedication paid off, and she is already on the road to success, having joined City Credit Capital as a Business Development Executive just one week after finishing her final exam. “I am working very hard, but I’ll probably never have to work as hard again as I did studying and working at the same time. I was working over 30 hours a week, studying full time, and then coming home from lectures to look after my mum”, said Supriya. “I wanted to make my family proud and managed to juggle university alongside two jobs. To finally graduate is the most important goal in life that I have

Celebrating outside the Wycombe Swan

Graduation 2007

IED award prize to Bucks students Two of our graduates were awarded a group prize by the Institution of Engineering Designers (IED) for their final year project, at the same time as graduating. Chris Burton, from Walters Ash, and Ben Hine, from Tring, graduated with degrees in Mechanical Engineering. The students’ final year challenge was to design an ultra low fuel car that could maintain a steady speed of 15mph. Chris and Ben’s car has a 35cc Honda engine, like that usually used in strimmers, around which they built a carbon-fibre body. “It was a mammoth project for us,” says Chris, who was a part-time student and a mechanical engineer in the RAF. “We first looked at other low fuel cars, and then we took our design based on what we see in nature. The final shape is basically long, thin and white.” They designed their vehicle on computer before making the car in the advanced composite bay at Chris’s base at RAF Benson. Ben (23) and Chris (27) joined forces on the project because they were both

Chris Burton & Ben Hine

interested in vehicle design. Chris has just left the RAF and hopes to forge a new career designing racing cars. “This project has been a huge challenge, but great experience,” he says.

Graduate enters the music business Maidenhead student Natalie Vale landed her dream job working in the music industry, even before she graduated! Her first job as Music Industry Account Manager for Stickee, a creative digital agency based in High Wycombe, came within weeks of finishing her studies. Natalie managed to combine a fulltime BA in Media Studies with Creative Writing and Video Production alongside looking after two children, now aged eight and four. Born into a musical family (her father is a songwriter and producer), Natalie also has considerable experience of booking bands as well as independent music management, and so wanted to put her knowledge of the music industry to good use.

“I work with music industry clients” “Stickee were interested in my creative writing background as well as my music industry roots, as they wanted someone to word their proposals, pitches and company literature,” she said. “I work with music industry clients, record and event companies – but essentially I do as it says on the tin – and manage the music industry accounts.”

First steward to graduate in Crowd & Safety Management Andrew Bradbury, from Cwmbran, became the first steward in the UK to graduate with a foundation degree in Crowd & Safety Management when he graduated on 5 September. The two year foundation degree is the first in the UK to focus on crowd safety. The course is offered through distance learning with a mix of internet-based virtual learning, two-day workshops and project-based work. Andrew has been a steward at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff since the stadium first opened in June 1999. He has attended most of the major events held at the 74,500 capacity venue including the 1999 Rugby World Cup, various FA Cup finals and pop concerts. “I remember the first game at the stadium when Wales beat South Africa; the atmosphere was unbelievable. I’ve been a steward for about eight years now and it’s really interesting watching the crowd behaviour at major events. After I obtained the NVQ Level II in Spectator Control, I wanted the opportunity to study crowd dynamics further, but there are so few courses available featuring this subject in the UK. That’s why I chose to study for the foundation degree in Crowd & Safety Management. “I’m hoping this foundation degree will allow me to develop my experience and understanding of crowd safety management at major events held in South Wales, including the 2010 Ryder Cup to be held at The Celtic Manor Resort.”

Andrew Bradbury


Graduate’s invention rolls off the production line Production design graduate Mark van Rensburg is about to see one of his inventions roll of the production line in China within months of leaving University. Mark invented a number of products during his three year BSc in Product Design. These include an integrated saucepan and colander which has caught the eye of celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson. “He’s looked at it, and thinks it’s a great idea,” says Mark. The utensil is especially aimed at the mass market but it also helps people who have difficulty using their hands as a result of conditions such as arthritis. Another of Mark’s inventions, a set of garden tools designed for use by people who suffer with arthritis or osteoporosis, and individuals in wheelchairs, including the elderly, won him a prize in the University’s My Great Business Idea competition. Mark is now working for an architectural company in Wheatley and is an external designer for Ultimate Products, one of the UK’s largest product sourcing companies. He has started up his own product design consultancy, Poss-um International, with business partner and fellow alumnus Jacob Barry. His colander/saucepan is about to go into production in China, ready for launch at a product show in the UK in 2008.

Local artist overcomes major illness to graduate Shivashtie Poonwassie, from Ickenham, has overcome surgery and illness to graduate with a BA (Hons) in Ceramics with Glass. She is now embarking on an exciting new career as a sculptor.

Mark van Rensburg

Having decided to take a new direction in life after bringing up two children, now aged 11 and 13, Shivashtie, who is 44, enrolled on her degree in art in 2003, after achieving a distinction in a BTEC Foundation in Art and Design at Uxbridge College where she also won the Bovilles Art Shop Award for mature students. However her dreams of becoming an artist were threatened by a number of setbacks when, after starting her studies, she needed several operations during her first and second years. Although the operations were routine, things went downhill due to complications following the surgery in her second year, which culminated in major surgery and a two-month spell in hospital. “During my stay I had a number of infections, a pulmonary embolism and pleurisy as well as the surgery. At one point, I was told if things didn’t change within a few weeks there would be nothing more the doctors could do for me,” she says. “I can’t remember much; I was extremely weak. Fortunately things changed and I left hospital at the end of January 2005 weighing just seven stone.” Thanks to massive support from her family, Shivashtie is now well on the road to recovery and is in the process of setting up as a self-employed artist. She has already had a taste of success, as one of her final year pieces of work, a giant head of bricks, soon found a buyer at the New Designers exhibition in London. Shivashtie is planning to sculpt more works of art from bricks, and will be basing her studio in a traditional brickworks, H.G. Matthews at Bellingdon near Chesham.

Never to old to learn A local businessman facing redundancy transformed his life by going back to study. At 48, Peter Smith from Aylesbury was by far the oldest in his class when he began an MBA at Buckinghamshire New University. However he proved that age is no barrier when it comes to learning as he gained a distinction and was immediately hired as Head of Operations by High Wycombe company, Risk Management Services. Peter, who is a single parent, had worked for 20 years with Group Four in London until the company was taken over. Rather than put his feet up or join the unemployment queue, he

“I always had the ambition to do a degree, and this was my chance to take a career break and go back to study,” decided that redundancy gave him the opportunity to take a fresh direction. “I always had the ambition to do a degree, and this was my chance to take a career break and go back to study,” said Peter. “The other students were all between 28 and 33, but I found I probably had a bit more life experience and acted as a mentor to a couple of them. I will probably carry on with my studies, and I’d like to go back to Buckinghamshire New University on a part-time basis and gain an HR qualification.”

Shivashtie Poonwassie with her children Naomi and Max

Sporting excellence for Essex graduate Hockey star Chloe Rogers, from Great Dunmow in Essex, has not only just successfully completed her degree course and graduated, but is now playing at international level in two sports, golf and hockey. Chloe, who recently won the British Universities Women’s Individual Golf Strokeplay Championships at Hexham, Northumberland, has been selected for the English Universities Golf Team. She also helped Buckinghamshire New University reach the quarter finals of the team event held at Hexham in July. Chloe, 22, who also plays midfield/ forward for Chelmsford Hockey Club, has been a regular in the England hockey team for the last two years and has been selected for the Great Britain squad. Her most recent international tournament was the Hockey World Cup in Madrid where she was England’s top goal scorer. Although she had played golf when she was younger, it took second place to hockey until she started on her degree in Sports Management with Golf Studies. Chloe said: “I began to play a lot more golf once I started at University and really got back into it again. However, I had to choose between the golf and hockey teams, as all university sport takes place on a Wednesday, and opted to play golf as the University is in the top division.” Chloe also played for England in the recent Euro Hockey Nations Championship in Manchester, when the team managed to clinch the Bronze medal beating Spain 3-2 in the play-off match and take the last qualifying spot for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Chloe Rogers


Graduation ceremonies for over 400 Nursing, Counselling and Health Related Care students took place on 7 November at the Wycombe Swan Theatre. Graduates were privileged to hear from guest speaker, Dr David Foster, formerly director of nursing at Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, which is now Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. David is a registered nurse and midwife and has held a range of nursing and general management posts for 20 years. Jaki Smart, Dean of the Faculty of Society & Health, commented: “The award ceremonies recognise the dedication and achievement of our students, many of whom will go on to work in hospitals in London and the South East. We are delighted to be able to celebrate their successes and to look forward to the significant contribution that they will make to the National Health Service as they embark upon their future careers.”

times, I could have given up so easily,

assistant. While working at Watford

she has succeeded, having graduated

but I battled through and just kept

General Hospital, she progressed

at the age of 59 after completing a

going, trying to forget how hard it was

onto NVQ Level 2 and 3 in healthcare

Flexible Conversion Course (a course

– and now I’ve shown that it can

which finally gave her the chance to

designed to allow students to move

be done.

apply for a nursing diploma course

from one branch of nursing to another).

“Buckinghamshire New University was so supportive, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of its staff who understood my situation, sorted things out for me and enabled me to pick up

Amongst the graduating students were

my studies again once the treatment

three ladies who have triumphed over

was over.”

major difficulties in order to graduate and for whom their achievement has particular personal significance - Cheryl Cameron, Sue Benfield and Julia Barrett.

Cheryl, has understandably been keen to support the work undertaken by cancer research charities in recognition She raised £9,000 when she and her sister walked 40 miles as part of the

Cheryl Cameron from Hedgerley near High Wycombe overcame a lifethreatening illness before going on to complete her nursing training and graduate this year.

Aviva Weekend to Breakthrough Breast

Cheryl, who is 47, began her three-

Julia overcomes hurdles to make a new start

year Diploma of Nursing course at Buckinghamshire New University

Cancer walk in September 2006, just months after her cancer treatment was complete.

six months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and had two operations.

Julia, who lives near Rickmansworth,

Despite the severity of the illness, she

graduated with no less than a

recovered well and in 2006 resumed

distinction in a Diploma in Nursing. She

her studies and went on to finish her

remembers: “I didn’t do very well at

final year and graduate.

school, and when I left at 16 with three

Cheryl’s inspiring story has a happy

‘O‘ levels, I felt that my teachers had

ending. Not only is she fully recovered,

written me off because I wasn’t very

but she has recently started work as

academic.”

upturned as she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Midway through her course, Cheryl underwent an intensive

a staff nurse on the Short Stay Ward at Wycombe General Hospital. Cheryl said: “I feel so lucky and blessed to be doing a job that I love. At the worst Nursing graduates

Graduation 2007

well as overcoming her fear of exams, and the break-up of her marriage, Julia managed to combine study with looking after four children aged between five and 13.

Thanks to the University’s Disability Service, she has also discovered why she found her school work so hard; she

“My other dream is to do the London Marathon”

exam result of 83% and a job offer as

is dyslexic and needed special help to

a staff nurse at the biggest heart and

overcome her problems with reading

lung centre, Harefield Hospital. Julia

and writing.

says: “It just goes to prove that with determination and a love for nursing anything is possible. It’s taken a lot for me to reach my goal to become a staff nurse. I’ve wanted it for as long as I can remember. I think if you are interested in something and really want to do it, you can succeed.”

A degree in nursing has helped single mother, Julia Barrett, aged 39, make a new start in life after being told she would never succeed academically by her school teachers.

in 2003. But in 2005 her life was

course was quite a challenge, but as

Julia’s story ends well, with a final

Since her illness, mother of two,

of the help that she herself received.

An inspiration to us all

part-time over four years. The nursing

Sue also faced another major setback in achieving her goal, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a number of operations before starting her course and finally being given the all clear. “Some of my dreams have come true by becoming a SRN at 59. My mother

Sue realises her dream of becoming an SRN at 59 Ever since she was a girl Sue Benfield knew she wanted to be a qualified nurse, but because she found schoolwork hard, she was unable to study to become a State Registered Nurse (SRN) when she was a teenager. Instead, she joined the army at 17 where she trained as a State Enrolled Nurse (SEN) until she left at 21. She then married and brought up a family before going back into general nursing, working the night shift as an SEN at St Mary Abbots Hospital in Kensington

Lacking the qualifications she needed

and then Charing Cross Hospital.

to become a nurse, Julia left school

However, Sue always had her dream

and started work as a healthcare

of training fully as a nurse, and now

Sue Benfield & Cheryl Cameron

would have been so proud of me because my family thought I wouldn’t do much as I was so hopeless at school,” she says. “My other dream is to do the London Marathon. I walked 60k last year for a breast cancer charity and raised over £1,500. I have started my training, walking the five miles to work three days a week.” “I want to encourage anyone who wants to become a nurse, as it’s never too late. I love nursing and always think we are privileged to come into people’s lives at their most vulnerable time. When I got breast cancer, I really didn’t think that I would be able to work again, but now I’ve got a second lease of life. Now there’s one more thing I’d like to do – go and see Everest!” Julia Barrett

Connection Graduations 2007  

Bucks New University Connection Graduations 2007

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