From education to employment

Inspirational former students sign up for @CAVC Alumni Network

From TV and radio personalities, to entrepreneurs and OBEs, a host of Cardiff and Vale College’s former students are helping the current generation of learners get ahead in their careers through the College’s Alumni network. 

Launched last summer, CAVC Alumni was the first alumni network of its kind to be set up by a Welsh FE institution. In its first 12 months it has enlisted hundreds of members. These include TV Personality Jason Mohammad, Brian Davies OBE the Director of Elite Sport and Chef de Mission for Team Wales at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Debbie Searle the Spa Manager at The Vale Resort and local entrepreneur Luke Gonzales to name just a few.

BBC TV and radio presenter, Jason Mohammad studied Media at Coleg Glan Hafren, which later merged with Barry College in 2011 to create Cardiff and Vale College, and returns to the College every year to present its Annual Awards.

“This alumni network provides a fantastic opportunity for leavers of the College, no matter how long ago that might be, to impart some of their advice and guidance to young people looking to take their first steps into employment,” Jason said. “It can never be underestimated how invaluable it can be for current students to learn from someone who has been there and done it, and I always find it so heart-warming to hear their stories of success at the CAVC Annual Awards ceremony each year.”

Brian Davies OBE studied A Levels at the former Barry College and now works at the highest level of sport in Wales, working with elite level coaches, institute practitioners and Performance Directors of Sport to ensure that Welsh athletes perform at their peak at major games.

Brian said: “There are so many opportunities out there for young people to gain valuable experience in the workplace that are beneficial to both the student and the employer, and a network like CAVC Alumni that is helping to facilitate those connections is great for the region. I’m really proud to still be connected to CAVC and to witness the inspirational stories of success that come from its students.”

Another member of the Alumni Network is Vale Resort Spa Manager Debbie Searle who studied Beauty & Holistic Therapies at the College. Debbie is also a current student, as she has returned to the College to study for a PGCE teaching qualification.

“I never really knew how much I really liked to learn until I went to college,” Debbie said. “I had a child at 16 and left school with no qualifications so I believed that I wasn’t very good at learning anything.

“Studying at CAVC gave me confidence and has helped to mould me into the person I am today. What I enjoyed when I was studying Beauty was the hands-on treatments; there was nothing like it.

“I joined the Alumni Network so that I can give the current students advice and guidance and help them develop their career.”

Luke Gonzales studied Commercial Refrigeration and Air Conditioning with CAVC as an apprentice and is now an Alumni Ambassador. He has since created his own business, C&G Mechanical, and regularly to delivers talks and workshops to current Refrigeration and Air Conditioning students.

“I invest my time as an Alumni Ambassador in the students of the College so that they can achieve the best that they can,” Luke said.

Jason, Brian, Luke and Debbie are just an example of CAVC’s former students that have stayed connected to the College as the Principal and Chief Executive, Mike James, explains:

“We’re extremely grateful to our CAVC Alumni members for giving their time back to the College. The network is connecting with some really high calibre figures in the region that are actively engaging with our learners. Our alumni have a vital role to play in helping learners make the right choices and many are acting as ambassadors offering valuable work experience and mentoring opportunities.

“Staying connected to our students when they leave us is a real priority. We don’t want to just see them achieve their qualifications; we want to see them progress into meaningful careers and to then come back to college to inspire the next generation whilst at the same time reconnecting with a vibrant group of fellow employers and professionals across the region.”

CAVC alumni have an important role to play for current and prospective students, acting as ambassadors for the College while sharing their knowledge and experience to help learners make the right choices. Alumni also offer valuable work experience and mentoring opportunities to existing students of the College.

Becoming a CAVC Alumni gives former students free access to benefits and discounts and provides invitations to events and networking opportunities that enable people keep in touch with not only the College but a range of professionals from across the Capital Region and beyond.

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