The dawning of a new Technological University status approaching, Athlone Institute of Technology virtually hosted its ultimate graduation ceremonies as a sole education entity on Thursday and Friday of last week.
During the course of four graduation ceremonies, in excess of 2,200 students were conferred virtually against the backdrop of the ongoing global pandemic.
In his address to the graduates, AIT President, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, urged all those students who graduated to “be mindful of the opportunities” they have been given and to use the skills gained to “make a positive impact” on their communities.
Professor Ó Catháin commented on the “great strength of character and resilience” shown by the class of 2020 and said that it would stand them in good stead as they forge successful careers in the coming years.
“I am always proud of our graduates, but today even more so as you have overcome such adversity to be here in this moment,” he said, acknowledging the difficulties faced by many students this past year.
“The commitment you have shown in the successful completion of your academic studies demonstrates that you are ready for all the opportunities and challenges of the world of work and life ahead of you, wherever that may be,” Professor O’Catháin noted.
Professor Ó Catháin reminded graduates to be “confident” in their abilities and know that the “transferable skills and attributes” developed throughout their studies will give them an edge in the fast-paced world of employment.
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Registry and this year’s master of ceremonies Frances O’Connell echoed this sentiment and said that the last year had brought many changes to the world of education.
Congratulating the graduating class, she said that they had shown tremendous courage “in the face of considerable adversity” and that “shoulder to the wheel” they had “readily adapted to changes in course delivery.”
The Vice President of Academic Affairs and Registry also thanked Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, and Athlone Chamber of Commerce for their generous sponsorship of this year’s special awards “in recognition of our students’ achievements.”
Of the 2,200 students conferred this week across AIT’s four faculties, 1889 were undergraduate, 307 postgraduate, four master’s by research and eight PhD.
Speaking to the graduates, Liam Rattigan, AIT’s newly appointed governing body chairperson, noted that despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic, students adapted quickly, showing tremendous courage in the process.
“This adaptability, flexibility and tenacity of spirit are key strengths that will benefit you in your future career. You have worked incredibly hard to get to this moment and shown a strength of character and determination far beyond your years.
“It is now abundantly clear that you are ready for the next phase of your journey and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” Mr Rattigan commented.
He added that as graduates of AIT, they have been “equipped with the necessary skills and attributes to succeed” in their chosen career paths and to be a “significant contributor to society.”
As the last of the graduating class of 2020 turned their tassels remotely this week, marking their transition from student to graduate, AIT celebrated its last conferring ceremony as an institute of technology.
Just last month the progressive third-level college submitted a formal application for technological university designation which should see AIT as a legal entity dissolved and a university for the Midlands in situ by September 2021.
As AIT celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, it does so as Ireland’s top-ranked institute of technology, sitting seventh nationally on the higher education leader board of all universities and institutes of technology.