No-one at the University of Derby Buxton’s graduation event on Saturday will know better than Elsje Hugo that you don’t get success handed on a plate…
But the former Buxton Community School pupil says the challenge of being put in charge of catering for the biggest event in the academic calendar - even before she gets her own degree – is just what today’s students need on their CVs.
Twenty-year-old Elsje, who came to Buxton ten years ago from South Africa, has been given the job of general manager for the day – looking after the 900 guests and organising the 300 meals which will be served after her fellow students pick up their degrees.
That has included hiring fellow students as part of her eight-strong team, deciding on the menu, negotiating with local suppliers and checking every detail down to the right number of serviettes.
“The most difficult thing is thinking about the little things you have to do,” said Elsje, who is in her second year of a degree in International Hospitality Management.
“It’s all about staying organised, which is the most important thing.”
Among those graduating at Saturday’s awards ceremony will be 21-year-old Karina Bhdaal, who was given the job of drawing up an application which went on to win the university’s bistro a Soil Association Food For Life bronze catering award for its fresh, healthy and sustainably sourced food.
The International Hospitality Management student, who will receive her BA, also became the first to use the experience as the basis for her final year dissertation.
And now the Soil Association is planning to feature her work on their website as a case study in the way organisations should work together for a sustainable future.
Raminta Ramoskaite, 22, who came to Buxton from Lithuania, will be hanging up her gown after receiving her degree in Travel and Tourism and rolling up her sleeves to carry out her role as assistant to the Dome’s banqueting and bar supervisor – the first student to get a full-time job under the university’s pioneering graduate employment scheme.
And James Aggett will pick up a degree in Outdoor Activity Leadership and Coaching, among the first graduates to benefit from the host of activities delivered at the Oaklands Manor Outdoor Leadership Centre.
He’s used his time at Oaklands to develop bushcraft skills - such as creating a bivouac from a parachute inflated by warm air from a camp fire - to leading young people in expeditions across the Peak District’s wildernesses.
He has also become a fully accredited outdoor leader, helping run the centre’s summer commercial activities.