Llanelli women among hundreds of students graduating at Open University ceremony in Wales – 50 years after very first degrees awarded

Over 600 students gradated today at two ceremonies at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Newport, as part of The Open University’s Wales graduation.


The 2023 event marks 50 years since the first OU degree ceremony at London’s Alexandra Palace, an occasion that was broadcast live on BBC2.

In both morning and afternoon ceremonies, students walked across the ICC stage to receive their degrees from the OU’s Executive Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering
and Mathematics, Professor Nicholas Braithwaite.

Leanne Staddon, 34, from Llanelli, graduated in Law. She chose the OU so that she could study alongside her job. She has recently started a new job as a Senior Legal
Officer for Cardiff Council, and is training to be a solicitor.

Leanne said:

“I loved the flexibility of the tutorials and how I had several days and evenings throughout the week and weekend that I could attend. This worked really well around
my full-time job. It has helped me grow as a person and made me realise my potential that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. It has made me realise how much I love learning and how much I want to continue learning throughout my career.”

Leanne was joined by honorary graduate: Tracy Pike MBE, CEO of Llanelli-based charity Connecting Youth Children and Adults (CYCA).

Tracy began her career as a teacher in 1979, going on to became head of pastoral care in a secondary school. After leaving teaching to raise her family, she studied
stress management with The Open University, and then set up her own business, training hundreds of NHS staff.

Tracy was the first stress management consultant to work with Llanelli GPs to offer stress control on prescription. In 1997 she joined Connecting Youth Children
and Adults (CYCA) as a learning clubs school coordinator. Tracy brought her passion for resilience control to the role and to date has secured funding of over six million pounds to offer free well-being support and counselling to children and their families.
She became CEO in 2002, and in 2018 received an MBE for services to children and their families.

Tracy Pike said:

“It’s both a privilege and an honour to be nominated for this honorary master’s degree with The Open University. My first formal qualification after leaving teaching
was actually with the OU and the principles of learning have been cascaded to thousands of learners.

“It has been a pleasure to have had staff from the OU in Wales witness first hand some of the learners at CYCA who have benefited from my OU principles and practices of managing stress.

“To fellow graduates, follow your passion on making a difference to people’s lives. It is both humbling and rewarding to witness change.”

Author and historian Norena Shopland was also made an honorary gradate. Her works include Forbidden Lives: LGBT Stories from Wales, the first work on Welsh sexual orientation and gender identity history, and the internationally popular toolkits Queering Glamorgan and A Practical Guide to Searching LGBTQIA Historical Records.

In 2021 Norena was commissioned by the Welsh Government to deliver LGBTQ+ training to local libraries, museums and archives throughout Wales. She has been on Wales’
list of most influential LGBTQ+ people, the Pinc List, from 2019 to 2023.

Norena Shopland said:

“My wife, like many people, worked full-time and did an Open University degree so we’re delighted to continue our connection with such an august institution. She
did her degree for fun, but for others, it’s an important route to career development and employment and in this rapidly changing world, a life-long opportunity to switch career paths or to try out new areas of interest. Learning is addictive, as I’m sure
those who have graduated would agree, so well done to them. Be proud of your achievements, and never stop learning.”

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