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Winter Graduations 2023: Mission accomplished for Holly!

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Published on 01 December 2023

Holly Thompson
Holly Thompson

A group of serving military personnel are among the first in the country to graduate with a new qualification designed to build on their existing abilities and experience.

Holly Thompson is one of those 10 students to complete the intensive 26-week Certificate of Higher Education, created at the University of Sunderland, which provides serving military personnel and veterans the additional knowledge and qualifications required to progress onto a health-related honours degree.

Holly, 24, who serves with the Queen Alexander Royal Army Nursing Corp, Joint Hospital Group South East, stepped on stage at the Stadium of Light this week, during the Winter Graduation Ceremonies, to collect her certificate.

She said: “It has been a great day, and to get this certificate is a tick in the box and opens the door to the next step of becoming a military nurse. I would recommend any serving personnel to complete this programme.”

The Certificate in Higher Education is a Level 4 certificate, worth 120 credits, opening the doors to multiple health fields, including Operational Department Practitioner (ODP) nursing, adult nursing, mental health nursing, as well as paramedic practice.

Holly, from North Wales, will now begin her Adult Nursing Degree in Birmingham, close to home where she lives with her partner and two-year-old daughter Rea-Emelia.

Launching the certificate, one of the first University’s in the country to do so, is part the institute's deep commitment to supporting veterans into a new career during or once they’ve left military service. Sunderland is a Gold award holder under The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS). The scheme recognises employers that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant. It is a promise to ensure that those who serve, or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, will be treated fairly.


One of the University academics central to improving the career prospects for military personnel during and after active service is Terry McDermott-Moses. She spent more than 20 years juggling her career as a nurse with her role as an Army Reservist. She has risen to some of the highest ranks in her profession as an Emergency Care Practitioner with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, and as Senior Nursing Officer with the 225 Medical Regiment. 

Both roles gave her the confidence and leadership skills to share her healthcare knowledge when she began teaching at the University of Sunderland in 2020 as a Senior lecturer in Clinical skills and Prescribing, and also as Programme Lead for the Certificate of Higher Education (Military).

She said: “All of our students have worked so hard. We are so proud of our very first cohort who have all passed the qualification, it’s 100 percent success rate which is fantastic. This is an intensive course, and they are all juggling their day jobs and family lives to achieve this, but the feedback has been fantastic. 

“This certificate is about investing in the military personnel and investing in their future. It’s all part of our covenant.”

She added: “We are very proud of Holly, who has really shone during the programme and her confidence has just grown. We wish her the very best of luck for the future.”

The next intake of students will be in January 2024.