"I did my undergraduate degree in civil engineering at Ulster University and soon after secured a job with John McQuillan, one of the top civil engineering and road surfacing companies in Northern Ireland. I was keen to build on my skills and with full support from the company I decided to undertake the Ulster University masters, which is accredited by the relevant engineering bodies.
"During my studies I was also training up to three nights per week with the County Antrim hurling team and was away many weekends playing matches, which ate up a lot of my free time. On 8 August my fiancé, Shannon, and I were blessed with a beautiful baby boy. Shannon really helped keep everything in order at home while my head was stuck in the laptop trying to complete my dissertation.
Matthew was awarded the best overall dissertation on the Ulster University course with its focus on highway engineering and improving the safety and durability of our roads.
"The standard of the lectures and facilities at Ulster University are second to none, with the lecturers constantly challenging you to work outside your comfort zone. The support I received from the course director, lecturers and even the librarians was excellent and I am truly grateful for their commitment.
"In July this year I secured a place on Atkins's renowned graduate development programme and while I was completing my studies the company was really supportive in giving me study leave. I am now working as a graduate civil engineer on the NI Water scheme. My role is to provide cost effective sustainable design solutions for the client while engaging with contractors to ensure that client specifications are met.
"Throughout my studies my fiancé reminded me that all the hard work would pay off and I can say wholeheartedly that it truly has. The love and support from my family helped me through the busy times and I am delighted to share my graduation day with them today."