A day to remember

Image of graduates celebrating outside cathedral
The final day of Graduation 2015 saw students from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences and the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences graduating in the morning, with the School of Nursing and Allied Health and the Centre of Public Health celebrating their achievements in the afternoon.

Samantha DownsSamantha Downs received her PhD for her thesis entitled Physical Activity, Sedentary and Playtime Behaviours in Children and Adolescents with Intellectual Disabilities. She has now secured a lecturing position at Edge Hill University, where she will be teaching on the Physical Education and School Sports degree and leading the Special Education Needs and Disability School Sports module.

Talking about her time at LJMU, she commented: “I completed my undergraduate degree in Exercise Science at in 2011 and loved it here at LJMU. The PhD position was advertised and I applied for it when I was travelling in South Africa. I was, and still am, extremely grateful for the opportunity I was given. It’s the end of an enjoyable six years as a student at LJMU and I am sad to be leaving but I hope to stay in touch and hopefully return as a member of staff in the future. I feel extremely blessed and lucky to have been provided with such a great opportunity to study and work alongside some of the world leading researchers in our field in Sport and Exercise Sciences. I could never thank or express my gratitude enough for the constant encouragement, support and belief provided to me. All the staff are fantastic.”

Elsie GaskellSenior Lecturer Elsie Gaskell from the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences received an individual Learning and Teaching Award from the Vice-Chancellor for employing a 'range of different approaches to teaching including lectures, workshops, inter-professional education sessions, laboratory classes, and extended projects'.

Stephen McQuilliam graduated in BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science with first class honours. He commented: “As a student LJMU has everything needed to help you succeed. The staff are approachable and have always been helpful, whether that be a lecturer, technician or library staff."Stephen McQuilliam

He continued: "Throughout the three years there have been countless opportunities for students to get involved, including placements or being research volunteers. Taking advantage of these opportunities has made such a difference to me and I've learnt so much. I did my lab research as an external placement, a strength and conditioning placement at LJMU, assisted with heat acclimatisation for Marathon des Sables runners, and presented my dissertation at a student conference, to name only some things I’ve done.”

Charlotte NaylorCharlotte Naylor, who graduated with an MSc in Virology, was awarded a distinction plus the John Bertrand Prize for Best Graduating Student. Charlotte has excelled in her studies while raising a small family and working as a nurse. She said: “I had a really good experience at LJMU, the teaching team were really supportive and I am so helpful for their advice and guidance. I am now looking to do a further Masters in Medical Microbiology or a PhD.”

Afternoon ceremony

Gareth MaileyDuring the afternoon ceremony, the achievements of students from the School of Nursing and Allied Health and the Centre of Public Health were celebrated.

Gareth Mailey graduated in BSc (Hons) Environmental Health with first class honours. He also achieved a first in his dissertation within a module which is classed as being the equivalent to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health professional exam. This is one of the requirements for achieving registration as an Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP), which means Gareth has taken a considerable step up the professional career ladder.

Sharon CodySharon Cody graduated in BA (Hons) Health and Social Care for Individuals, Families and Communities with first class honours. She commented: "My uni years have been the best three years of my adult life. I have gained a lot of academic skills through attending university as before I came to LJMU I had been out of education for over 20 years. I was scared to use a computer when I started my course and now I have graduated with a first class degree. I owe my lecturers for the positive experience I have had of university life. They have supported me through tough times, laughed with me and cried with me and I see them as some of the most important role models in my life to date."

Sharon continued: "I am the first in my family to go to university. My daughter now goes and my two sons will follow her. University is an absolute must for the transition from childhood to adulthood and every young person should have the chance to go if possible. University has certainly opened my eyes to the bigger world."

Kay Bradshaw, Ray Addai and Leah GilbertFriends Kay Bradshaw, Ray Addai and Leah Gilbert (pictured left to right) all graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. They are now all social workers in Children Services at St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council, Halton Borough Council and Cheshire and West Chester Council respectively.

Honorary Fellowship: Professor Viv Bennett

Also during the afternoon ceremony, Professor Viv Bennett received her Honorary Fellowship for outstanding services to public health nursing. 

Professor Bennett has been Nurse Director for Public Health England since 2012. As the Government’s Principal Advisor on Public Health Nursing, she provides high quality and independent nursing advice to ministers and officials on policy issues and public health nursing and is the national lead for developing public health nursing and midwifery. She leads the national programme ‘Best Start for All Our Children’ and the Health Visiting and School Nurse Development programmes. 

Professor Bennett's professional responsibilities include the national health care professionals programme ‘Caring for the Population’s Health’ and advising WHO Europe on nursing and midwifery strategy. She is a digital social media champion using blogs and twitter to connect with professionals, partners and the public on health and wellbeing. 

She has a Masters degree at University Bristol in health and social policy, is an Honorary Fellow and Visiting Professor at King’s College London, and is a Fellow of the Queen’s Nursing Institute and the Institute of Health Visiting.

Honorary Fellow Professor Viv BennettReceiving her Honorary Fellowship, Professor Bennett gave some advice to the graduates, commenting: “One of the most important things is to stay connected. I spend lots of time with you out in practice and I connect through social media. You must also learn to be resilient. It is not easy to do but two things will help you achieve this – a sense of proportion and a sense of humour. Take every opportunity that presents, reduce complexity and be doggedly determined. Remember that what actually matters at the end of the day is to improve the experience of patients and the health of individuals. Have fun in your careers and for the people around you, try to make their jobs satisfying and fun too.”

Professor Bennett quoted Winnie the Pooh author A A Milne, whose character, Christopher Robin, said: ‘We are braver than we believe, stronger than we seem, and smarter than we think', before adding “If we believe all these things we will make a difference to the health and well-being of the population.”

You can read the full oration for Honorary Fellow Professor Viv Bennett here

For more student stories and photos, visit the LJMU Facebook page 
Take a look at a round-up of the day's celebrations 


Congratulations Oryx Universal College, Qatar!


Congratulations to all our graduates in Colombo!


Contact Us

Get in touch with the Press Office on 0151 231 3369 or