Inverness pastoral assistant wins student of the year award

Dr Jonathan Mackenzie, pastoral assistant at Culloden Baptist Church, Inverness, has been named the student of the year at the Highland Theological College UHI in Dingwall, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

see full size image
Jonathan and his wife, Amanda, with their children

Formerly an undergraduate at the college, achieving first-class honours, thirty-two-year-old Dr Mackenzie has just completed a doctorate in theology and is now in training to become fully ordained as a church minister.

He won the Highland Theological College UHI title, and a £100 prize, for his academic and personal achievements and his contribution to the student community – serving as a representative on committees, and organising sports activities.

College principal, the Rev Hector Morrison, and colleagues have also praised Dr Mackenzie’s determination to continue his part-time studies while coping with serious illness in the family. His son Lewis, aged five, has suffered from Nephrotic Syndrome, a rare disease causing the kidneys to leak protein, since he was two-and-a-half.

Dr Mackenzie and his wife, Amanda, who is a teacher at Culloden Academy, also have a daughter, Lara, aged six.

He was a ski technician and store manager for the Christian travel and refugee aid company Oak Hall Expeditions, based in Kent, before moving to Inverness where his father was born and brought up.

“I wanted to come here because it is such a nice place to live, and I was drawn to the college because it has a low student-staff ratio. There is a good community at the college, and my time there has been a great experience,” Dr Mackenzie said. He credited his own “exceptional self-discipline” for ensuring that he did his college work.

Dr Mackenzie has also managed to find some leisure time to pursue a passion for hill walking, and is now half-way through bagging all the Scottish Munros.

The Rev Morrison said: “Jonathan is a worthy winner of the Highland Theological College UHI student of the year award. Not only has he attained considerable academic distinction at both undergraduate and doctoral levels, but he has also thrown himself into the fuller life of the college, and of UHI, over a long period of time.

“He has encouraged a number of sporting activities amongst the student body during his undergraduate years, and represented the student body on a variety of college committees and UHI validations during both his undergraduate and postgraduate studies. We are very proud of him.”