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10 June 2024

Vice Chancellor Reflects on Two Decades of Student Success


Wrexham University’s outgoing Vice-Chancellor has attended her final graduation ceremonies before her upcoming retirement.

More than 1,700 students took part in this year’s graduation ceremonies at the William Aston Hall.

Professor Maria Hinfelaar said:

“It’s been an immense privilege to celebrate our latest graduates’ achievements and commitment to their studies. We are confident that the knowledge, skills and experiences they have gained while studying with us will have a profoundly positive impact on our communities.

“On a personal note, this week has been an extremely special one for me as it marks the end of celebrating the achievements of several generations of students. The first graduation ceremony I presided over as head of an institution was in Limerick in 2004 – and this year’s in Wrexham marked my last, before I retire later this summer.

“It’s been an incredible two decades of personally congratulating and shaking hands with around 50,000 remarkable individuals who have completed their studies and are embarking on the next phase in their lives. That’s thousands of engineers, accountants, marketeers, managers, nurses, artists, computer scientists, teachers, social workers, and many more professions.

“Many who have gone into the workplace in the field they qualified, many have set up their own businesses, some have stayed in academia as researchers, academic or professional staff. With their knowledge and skills, they deliver incredible value to our communities all over the world.”

Among the graduates was Karen Williams, 42, who gained a first class degree in Mental Health and Wellbeing. She said that university had completely changed her life and perspective.

Karen said:

“I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved while at university. From setting up social enterprise Familiarisation Videos while studying to supporting the Outside In project – it’s been incredible.

“As a younger person, university was something I didn’t think I’d ever be capable of completing – I didn’t do great at my GCSEs, I didn’t go to college but then while volunteering for a mental health charity, I realised that I wanted to further develop my knowledge and understanding of the mental issues that service users faced – that’s where university came in.

“And since then it’s been a real turning point for me. My time at university has been absolutely brilliant – it’s completely opened my eyes and helped me to view the world through a different lens and my lecturers have been amazingly supportive.  Graduating with a first class degree is the icing on the cake.”

Karen is now going on to do her Masters in Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Nhlanhla Ncube, who graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management and currently works as a Nurse for the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

“I’m delighted to have gained my MBA but I’m even more excited to take my next steps in my career as I’m hoping to embark on a health management role.

“I believe the insights, knowledge and confidence that I’ve gained during the course of my studies have equipped me for that next chapter.”

Nursing graduate, Chris Owen, who is now working for the NHS in the Renal Unit at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, said:

“It feels so good – but also a little surreal – to have graduated after a brilliant three years at Wrexham. My course was incredible with fantastic support provided throughout from both my lecturers and peers, opportunities to grow and learn through placements were also brilliant.

“I’m now pleased to be doing a job I love working in the Renal Unit at Wrexham. I’m proud to do a job that I love, that is making a difference to patients’ lives every day.”




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