Sharyn is a 'humbling example to us all'

Sharyn McGuiness and Nicholas Ferguson CBE.
Sharyn McGuiness and Nicholas Ferguson CBE.

A Bute resident has received Argyll College UHI’s Student of the Year Award for her dedication to her studies in the face of a cancer diagnosis.

Sharyn McGuinness, an SVQ3 Health and Social Care student from Rothesay had her studies interrupted in late 2014 when she was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumour. Sharyn underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and she then endured a long and painful rehabilitation process.

Sharyn received a standing ovation for her speech at the graduation ceremony.

Sharyn received a standing ovation for her speech at the graduation ceremony.

Her tutor, Allan MacDougall, said: “As a result of the operation, Sharyn literally had to learn to speak, walk and write again and it was with a huge effort that she maintained email contact and painstakingly typed her work and sent through to me for assessing.

“We also arranged to meet on two occasions and her commitment was such that she attended these being physically supported by her sister and her partner and also rearranging her meetings with her Macmillan nursing support in order to do so!

“She has also been in contact with me to arrange the finalising of her portfolio from her hospital bed! She is a humbling example to us all.”

Sharyn, a social services support assistant worker, took the major decision to resume her studies in August 2015 and succeeded in overcoming the odds to complete her SVQ3 in November 2015.

She was awarded the prize because of her remarkable resilience, motivation and commitment to complete her qualification which the judges felt was truly inspirational. These sentiments were echoed by the assembled audience of over 100 graduands and their families in Oban’s Argyllshire Gathering Halls, who gave Sharyn’s speech a standing ovation.

The graduation ceremony, which was held on Friday, September 30, was the college’s largest ceremony to date with over 56 different qualifications being conferred.

Guest speaker, Nicholas Ferguson CBE, Chairman of Saville’s plc and former Chairman of Sky plc, presented Further Education Awards, and Professor Clive Mulholland, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands presented 75 Higher Education Awards.

College Principal, Fraser Durie said: "Rarely do so many of our students get the opportunity to come together in one place, given that so many study at a distance from both their tutors and their peers, so it’s extremely gratifying that so many are attending today’s event. It is satisfying to see that our student numbers continue to rise year on year, but most importantly, we are also seeing an increase in levels of student satisfaction as measured in our annual student surveys.

"I am also gratified that Argyll College UHI can count itself amongst the top two colleges in Scotland for number of further education students entering the workforce."