Graduating university students from across the Bega Valley have thrown their mortar boards in the air and celebrated finishing their years of study.
On Monday, 33 students at the University of Wollongong’s Bega campus were presented with their degrees at a graduation ceremony in Bega.
It was the first year the campus offered a Masters of Teaching, with one of the course’s graduates Ben Machan of Kalaru.
“I didn’t do the one year course, but I think the two year course gave us a deep knowledge of teaching, practice, as well as learn the skills we need,” the 24-year-old said.
“I thought it was good to get to the local schools as well, so we become familiar faces.”
Merimbula’s Hollie Russell and Natasha Sconfienza also both graduated their Masters of Teaching (Primary), saying it was stressful, but rewarding.
Ms Russell chose to study at the campus as her family lived in the Valley and she did not want to leave them
“Also as a small campus it has a lot more support,” she said.
Both plan on staying in the Bega Valley to work.
Bachelor of Commerce graduate Sasha Smith, 22, who has lived in Bega “since day one” said her decision to study at the local campus was a financial one.
“That’s the good thing about having a campus down here – if you move away and your parents can’t afford an allowance, then often it’s hard to to live off welfare payments,” she said.
Fifty-seven-year-old Cindy-Ann Gatt said as a mature-aged student, she had been very well supported at the campus during completing her Bachelor of Arts.
But stopping years of studying was taking some getting used to for the Bega resident.
“It took me a while to get used to the idea because I’ve been so busy with studying for four years and now it’s just finished!” Ms Gatt said.
With her first grand-daughter being born, she now plans to have a year off before looking for employment or doing honours.
Since the UOW’s Bega campus opened in 2000 more than 410 people have graduated.