BEAMING students and proud parents filled St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Saturday for the fourth UCS Bury St Edmunds graduation ceremony.
Around 130 students stepped up to receive their reward for years of dedication and hard work.
Ann Williams, principle of West Suffolk College and USC Bury St Edmunds, said she was very proud of all the students’ achievements.
She said: “Each year we see our graduates rewarded for years of hard work and focus.
“I think it is fantastic because we have a great mix of young students and mature students who have to balance work alongside getting their degree.
“This is the biggest number of graduates we have ever had.
“It seems a long time we started out with just 15 students.
“The cathedral makes it really special, it is just so beautiful.
“The town is made for a day like this.”
During the ceremony, entrepreneur and philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley received an honorary doctorate from the university.
Dame Shirley, who made her fortune founding a business helping female IT workers find jobs, has given away more than £60 million to good causes.
She said: “I came here for the first time a few years ago and just loved it so much. For a country town it has so much going for it.
“When you look at the students graduating most are local – both young and old – and they are just so happy to be here.
“It makes such a difference having a town and gown here.”
Among those who received special awards were Ian Newman, from Elmswell, Graham Goldsmith, from Thetford, Kim Hunter, from Red Lodge, and Jill Cockman, from Bury St Edmunds.
There were 13 students who achieved first class honours degrees.