graduate tells of Gambia education experience
Highbridge student who was so moved by the plight of poor people
in the Gambia that she helped organise the education of four children
has graduated from Weston College this week.
Kayleigh Gillard, 20, received her Foundation Degree in Tourism
Management at a ceremony in Weston on Thursday (September 15th),
which saw around 200 students pick up foundation and honours degrees.
As part of her course, Kayleigh and 20 other students and teachers
flew to the Gambia earlier this year to study the effects of tourism
in a Third World country. Kayleigh took a suitcase of children's
clothes with her that were distributed around a local school.
However, she was unprepared for the levels of poverty she witnessed
just yards from tourist attractions.
She told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "We saw new hotels being built
right next to shanty towns. We visited a family who had absolutely
nothing, and their only toilet was a hole in the ground. The average
tourist might not see poverty so close up, but to be honest it
was hard to ignore it. It's really made me think about things
like not wasting food, and I'm planning to go back as a volunteer
After a visit to a local primary school the group collected £200,
which will pay for a year's schooling for four children.
Kayleigh will now complete her final year's education at Bath
Spa University, after which she will receive an Honours Degree.
Then she wants to spend a year travelling and will return to the
Gambia as a volunteer.
She added: "The Weston College course has been fantastic
and the trip to the Gambia was definitely one of the best experiences
of my life. It was a massive eye-opener."
Students from a wide variety of subjects including tourism management,
computing, performing arts and education, gathered at the Parish
Church of St John to have Foundation and Honours Degrees conferred
Families and friends joined those graduating in a ceremony which
mixed the formal with the inspirational. Guest speaker Antony
Jinman, a Polar explorer who now lectures about his experiences
to young people, told the gathering that graduation was 'the first
day of the rest of your life'.
He said: "My dream was to become a Polar explorer and I
made it come true. The secret to achieving your dream is to break
down the steps into small chunks and today you have started that
process by graduating."
Dr Paul Phillips, Weston College Principal and Chief Executive,
said: "I would like to
congratulate everyone who has graduated this year for their hard
work, dedication and commitment to their studies. Each year more
and more students are choosing to study with us and they are reaping
the rewards by achieving outstanding results and improving their
job prospects. Long may this continue."