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After 50 years of graduations Alanda Whitehead takes to the stage


After attending more than 400 graduations in the institution’s history, long-term friend of De Montfort University Mrs Alanda Whitehead MBE received an honorary fellowship at a glistening ceremony at Leicester’s Curve theatre on Wednesday (24 January).

Alanda married John Whitehead while he was deputy chairman of Leicester Polytechnic, before it became De Montfort University (DMU) in 1992 and he became Pro Vice-Chancellor.

A tireless fundraiser, in 2005 Alanda was awarded an MBE for her outstanding contribution to charities in Leicestershire. A dedicated ambassador for DMU, Alanda has attended all but one of the university’s graduation ceremonies in five decades – delighting in the achievements of its students.

Talking at the graduation ceremony on Wednesday, Alanda said: “It is extremely exciting after witnessing 50 years of graduation ceremonies to be on the stage to receive this Honorary Fellowship. Graduations have changed dramatically since the first I attended in 1962 when there were only two graduates in my husband's office, and we were fortunate enough to find a bottle of champagne to mark the occasion.

“It is a testament to the passion for education that everyone at DMU shares that the ceremonies are now events that so many students and their parents attend and take pride in.”

Graduating on Wednesday were students from DMU’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, including midwifery student Kerry Hewitt, 36, who was approached by the Royal College of Midwives to front a national campaign to recruit more NHS midwives after she was chosen as an Olympic torchbearer.  

Kerry said: “I have had an amazing time at DMU and met some fantastic people and colleagues - I am missing it already. I am now thinking of studying for a Masters degree and exploring a career in research.”

Louise Donnelly, 22, graduating in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing, said: It’s an emotional day as it marks the end of a really challenging and rewarding period of my life.”

Nursing graduate Jonathan Lees, 25, added: “The ceremony was fantastic. I have already secured a job at Leicester General Hospital so I am really looking forward to the next step of my career. I chose DMU to do my course because the facilities were so good and I would really recommend a course here to anyone interested in healthcare.”

• See pictures from the graduation ceremonies this week on the DMU Leicester Facebook page.

Posted on Friday 25th January 2013

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