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  • Kirstea

First Class

All suited and booted ready for the graduation ceremony

Tomorrow marks a month since I graduated. My studies have taken 5 years, if you include college. It took a year to gain my 'Level 3 Diploma in Art & Design'; a year on the wrong degree course; and 3 years on the right degree course. I could have gone straight into second year when I moved universities, but I wanted to start again as I felt my time at the first institution had been a waste. I learned things, but the course itself was not up to scratch and I knew I would feel behind my classmates if I dove straight in. So it took me a little bit longer to gain a 'First Class BA Honours Degree in Textiles & Surface Design'. but I finally did it. I've finally got my degree and I've got a shiny first class honours attached to it to make it even more of an achievement.

It's been one hell of a learning curve these last 3 years, There have been ups and downs. There have been lots of obstacles to work past. There have been times I wanted to just quit, when I just didn't see how I could get past those obstacles. Here comes the soppy bit: I've made friends for life, and they got me through my time at uni as much as I did.

The first thank you goes to my housemates - they were with me at the lowest points. We spent sleepless nights together working away, we told each other everything would be fine when one of us had a wobble, and we partied pretty hard when things went well. They gave me my business name; they made me a cup of tea whenever they could see I was stressed; and they have also been known to wander to the corner shop for chocolate in the more serious situations. We all got on each others' nerves from time to time, which is only natural when you live together, but the good times definitely outweighed the bad. We always made each other smile some way or another, and we have some amazing memories from our time in Mitchell Street. I know my witches have always got my back.

Leigh-leigh, Abba, Kirstea and Lucy-Lou

The next thank you goes to Holly, my long-lost twin. We clicked from day one, and remained inseparable from then on. Our tutors loved that we sat together because our styles of work are so different, but somehow sat so well beside each other throughout the 3 years. We set up washing lines between our desks to hang work on, we had a mascot that sat in the middle, and we had a key to each others' lockers as we shared pretty much everything. When she was my housemate for a while she, like my other housemates, was there for the late night sessions; we regularly squished up on the sofa under a blanket to watch films whenever we needed a break; and we'd cook up a storm in the kitchen most evenings. Her family welcomed me with open arms, and I'm going to miss my weekly cup of tea with her mum; as well as cuddles with her gorgeous dogs. She's a beautiful person inside and out, and she's going to do so well after uni.

The boyfriends scrub up well

The next thank you goes to my tutors and the technicians. Jo and Lesley-Anne, our textile department technicians were always there and happy to help when needed. While the department was short-staffed for a few months, due to maternity leave and sickness, they worked so hard to keep everything running smoothly and they did really well. I must admit, I'll miss tootling down the corridor for their expertise in all matters print and embroidery; and them being a hilarious double act who always brightened your day. Jayne, our head of department, has been with us throughout. She held our hands while we settled into first year and helped us grow more independent so we'd be ready for third year, then eventually the textiles industry. She always called you 'babe', has a super funky fashion sense and the nicest smile. Claire became a second mother to some of us. We saw her pretty much every day as she guided us through third year with sass and excitement. She was so incredibly inspiring and I can't put into words how much she helped shape me into the designer I am today. She's an amazing person, gives the best advice, and invested herself in each of us way more than she needed to - because she cared that much and wanted us all to do well.

Jo, Lesley-Anne, Holly, Me, Claire and Jayne

The next thank you goes to my Granddad. My Granddad helped me out of a tough spot in my teens, and made going to uni possible. He was supportive when I moved across the country, and always there when I needed to moan. I could rely on him to be there to FaceTime me each morning while I had a cup of tea and did my makeup. He would be asked daily to tell me my eye makeup looked the same on both eyes, and made sure I had my face painted on well before I headed into uni each day. He was a photographer once - he knows a thing or two about makeup! It also meant a lot that he could make my graduation.

The penultimate thank you goes to my Dad, who also made uni possible. 'The Bank of Dad' helped organise my student finance and made sure I didn't go hungry when my loans occasionally ran low towards the end of the semester. He encouraged me to take every opportunity thrown at me, so I travelled to some wonderful places and had some of the best times. It was great that he was able to come to my graduation, as he works out of the country a lot and doesn't live near me at home so I don't get to see him all that often. For those of you wondering, his t-shirt reads "I'm a grumpy old man. I was born in July 1960. My level of sarcasm depends on your level of stupidity" - all of which is true.

At 6'2" he towers over me. Without heels I barely reach his shoulder.

The final thank you goes to Charlie, my better half. He missed the first few months of my uni experience, but he was with me for the last two and a half years of my degree - the important parts. He dealt with the biggest meltdowns around deadlines, and was never once bothered - he just held my hand and told me I'd be fine. He's my biggest fan. He drove 2 hours across the country most weekends to come see me, and spent many of them positioned in front of the TV while I did my uni work. Never once did he complain as he knew I'd acknowledge his existence again once I'd done what I needed to do. If I'd had a tough week he would turn up with flowers, chocolate, or something else he knew would cheer me up; and he made an effort to become good friends with all of my friends, which was lovely. He fit into the Mitchell Street family and they were all as excited to see him as I was. He always had faith in me, and shared the joy of finding out that all my efforts were deemed first class.

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