2010 - Cait McCullagh and Robert ‘Rab’ Lees
2010 UHI Alumnus of the Year - Cait McCullagh and Robert ‘Rab’ Lees
In 2010 we had two joint winners of the award; Cait McCullagh (BA Cultural Studies), and Robert ‘Rab’ Lees (BA Rural Development Studies). UHI principal, James Fraser, said Cait and Rab demonstrated the success of the region’s own higher education institution. “We are very proud of them both and the contribution they are making to community life in our region. They exemplify the value of UHI’s innovative teaching system.”
Cait McCullagh studied for her cultural studies degree at Inverness College UHI. She then completed a postgraduate degree in archaeology at the University of Oxford before returning to the Highlands and helping to set up Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH).
She went on to become a museum development officer and island archaeologist in Argyll, helping to set up the heritage centre on the island of Lismore. She has also worked as a field archaeologist - researching, surveying and excavating sites in Skye, Ross-shire, Caithness, Sutherland, Inverness-shire and Moray.
Cait said studying at UHI was the best choice for her. She explained: “Being able to combine library, online and tutorial-based learning with local fieldwork was ideal. I couldn’t have developed such an intimate knowledge of the sites, features, material culture and life and livings of people in the Highlands, both past and present, if I hadn’t been able to immerse myself within them whilst studying.
“The UHI vision is wonderful, ensuring that those who love the Highlands and Islands can continue to contribute to the intellectual, cultural and economic growth of a fine region.”
Matt Sillars, her former student adviser at Inverness College UHI, nominated Cait for the alumnus of the year award 2009/10. He said: “Cait’s enthusiasm for archaeology and her determination shine through in everything she does.”
Aided with Heritage Lottery and Highland LEADER funding for three years, Cait’s work now involves enabling people from communities throughout the region to learn about, investigate, record and display their local archaeological heritage.
Robert "Rab" Lees
Robert “Rab” Lees, a former plumber, fulfilled an ambition to gain a degree when he was in his 40's. He is now area manager for a green energy advisory organisation.
Rab, from Fort William, gained his BA rural development studies degree through Lews Castle College UHI on the Isle of Lewis, but was able to study in his home area. He is now part-way through a UHI postgraduate course in managing sustainable development.
An area manager with Community Energy Scotland, based in Fort William, Rab helps local community and non-profit organisations in West Highlands, Argyll and Bute, Perth and Stirling to develop renewable energy projects.
Rad said: “I always had aspirations to return to education of some sort and the UHI degree course offered me a great opportunity to do this without having to move away from home. If it was not for UHI, then it would not have been possible for me.
“Gaining the degree has been life-changing and a very positive experience that I would recommend to anyone looking to change tack.”
Rab was nominated by his former programme leader, Michael Smith, who said: “He has realised his ambition of getting a degree thanks to UHI, and now has a career which he loves. Rab recently did a presentation to our current students and inspired them with his story and the opportunities that opened up for him.