Stockton town centre was awash with high achievers this week as students from Stockton Riverside College celebrated graduation.
More than 90 adults of all ages paraded along the high street in caps and gowns before taking to the stage at the Stockton Globe to signify the culmination of their efforts.
College principal Lesley Graham said: “Graduation is a significant day not just for our college students and staff but for our whole community.
“Seeing the town centre brimming with learners who have achieved their personal goals is a joyous occasion, and no doubt an inspiration to so many.”
If you had told Anjimarie five years ago that she would be studying towards a degree, the mum-of-one says she would have laughed at the thought.
Yet today the 44-year-old was valedictory speaker for the Stockton Riverside College higher education class of 2022.
With her daughter and her mum in the crowd to share the moment, she said: “This is something I didn’t believe I was capable of and yet it is the best thing I have ever done, next to having my daughter.”
Starting at the college on a level 2 counselling course at 40, Anjimarie had no idea where it would lead.
“I was looking for some sort of security for me and my daughter and going back to education seemed the best way to do that,” she explained.
Counselling was something that came up chatting with family and spurred on to make the call, three days later she was in the college class.
Finding a passion for the subject she said the level 2 course easily led on to level 3, and then the foundation degree, delivered in partnership with Teesside University.
Anjimarie said: “I never did amazing with my GCSEs at school, at 15 my social life seemed more important, and I had no idea what I wanted to do.”
Studying as an adult, she found, has been an entirely different experience.
And despite the demands of juggling her studies around work and family life, she said: “I have loved every minute!”
A part of the Teesside University College Partnership, Stockton Riverside College offers a range of higher education certificates, foundation and full honours degrees.
Principal Lesley added: “We are incredibly proud of all our learners, but the achievements of our higher education students is quite remarkable. So many balance their studies alongside the demands of work and family commitments, and graduation is our chance to applaud their achievements.”