Home Media News Archive 2012 Exceptional mentor and ambassador is Moray College UHI student of the year

Exceptional mentor and ambassador is Moray College UHI student of the year

Issued Tuesday 10 July 2012
Exceptional mentor and ambassador is Moray College UHI student of the year

Moray College UHI student of the year, Mary Whitson combined her past skills for future benefit with a first class honours degree. Pictured at Findhorn beach.


An exceptional, self-motivated student who overcame isolation and personal challenges to gain a first class honours degree is this year’s Moray College UHI student of the year.

Mary Whitson (53), a mother of four from Forres, gave up a full time job as a dress designer to embark on her degree in natural and environmental sciences in 2008.

And despite having to support three of her children into college and university and one still at secondary school, she has remained committed to her course as well as finding time to mentor other students and be an ambassador for STEM, the science, technology, engineering and maths initiative which promotes skills to young learners.

Samantha Bright, Moray Science Festival Director and Programme Leader for Environmental Sciences Degree at the University of the Highlands and Islands said: “Mary is a very determined woman. Throughout her studies she has consistently achieved very good marks in all her subjects, producing some outstanding work.

“And she was also a student mentor and helped other students progress in their studies, willingly volunteering to be available if they needed another student to talk to. All staff, tutors, students and examiners who have met Mary, believe she richly deserves this award.”

Originally from Billingham in Cleveland, Mary studied textile chemistry at the Scottish College of Textiles in Galashiels and moved with her family to Forres in 1996. Her husband died July 1999 leaving her with four children in primary education.

"The close proximity of UHI Moray College to my home enabled me to study for my degree while my children were still in secondary education,” explained Mary.  “It is wonderful to have my achievements recognised in this award. I am indebted to my family, friends, fellow students and academic and non-academic staff, both at Moray College and throughout UHI, for their encouragement and support during the past four years.

“Courses such as this didn't exist in the 1970's when environmental concerns such as climate change, pollution, and changes in biodiversity and ecosystems, were only just being recognised. The variety of modules allowed me to choose subjects that most interested me, such as microbiology and marine science and I was also able to integrate my knowledge of textiles.”

Mary wins £150 as the Moray College UHI student of the year and now goes through as a candidate for the overall University of the Highlands and Islands title, along with other winners from other campuses across the region.

Mary is currently looking for suitable employment in the Moray or Highland areas and plans to go on to study for a Masters degree in 2013.

Media contact

Alison Lochhead
Communications manager
01463 279222

Filed under: ,