Degree with distinction for Shetland graduate

A high-flying Shetland student who had to manage a chronic illness throughout the course of his studies is celebrating after graduating with distinction from Robert Gordon University (RGU).

Jack HowarthJack Howarth, a former Anderson High School pupil, graduated with an MEng in Mechanical Engineering, with distinction, at Aberdeen’s Music Hall yesterday (Tues, Dec 9).

The 22-year-old, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2008, said managing the illness alongside his studies often proved tricky.

“Up until third year, it affected me on daily basis and progressively worsened until I underwent a life changing operation in 2012,” Jack explained. “Following my operation I had a long recovery period, which spanned my final years. 

“Despite this being my greatest challenge I feel this is one of my greatest achievements as I’ve been able to overcome it and leave with the highest award I could achieve at this level of degree. 

“I have been very fortunate to have all the support I could ever have asked for from my family, and without them I truly wouldn’t be in the same situation and for that I am extremely grateful.”

Jack completed a fast track masters programme at RGU, which requires two summer industrial placements and means students gain their degree in four rather than five years.

He said: “The support networks available at RGU have been second to none for me, especially the careers service, lecturers and technicians. No matter the situation they have all been more than helpful which I feel has definitely contributed to my success. I have received first class education and as a result achieved my Masters a year early with great results.” 

He puts his interest in the subject down to his passion for motorsports and a desire to understand more about the engineering behind what he was working on, while the presence of offshore platforms such as Sullom Voe on his doorstep meant a career in the energy industry was an obvious choice.

Jack, who has now started as a graduate engineer at Subsea 7, said: “In my view there wasn’t a better industry to join that could offer the same level of opportunities, development and diversification.”

He added: “My time at RGU has been fantastic and most certainly an unforgettable experience. I’m really glad I’ve had the opportunity to complete my degree in Aberdeen and have so many great memories from the past four years at university.

“I feel that university has allowed me to develop not only as an engineer but also as a person, as I have found that both my personal and professional skills are way beyond what they were prior to enrolment into university. One of the biggest and most important things to me that I will take away from university is the friendships that I have made during my time here.”

An unexpected turn of events also meant that Jack run into a long lost cousin who he hadn’t seen since he was a toddler during his first year at RGU.

“It was utterly surreal and still to this day I cannot fathom the probability of this occurring,” he said. “I’m delighted that we crossed each other’s paths very early on because it allowed us to make the most of our time together in Aberdeen.”

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology