James Cunningham will graduate today (Monday 2 July) with a BMus in Music
James Cunningham will today (Monday 2 July) graduate with a First Class Honours in Music (BMus) from the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen’s University Belfast.
James, 21, from Portadown, is partially sighted and his Guide Dog, Bart, a black Labrador-Retriever now aged 5, accompanied him to all of his lectures, seminars and recitals on campus.
A talented musician, James plays an array of musical instruments including the clarinet, piano, drums, guitar and saxophone to name just a few.
Speaking about his university experience, James said: “My experience at Queen’s has changed me as a person. There were quite a few ups, and quite a few downs, but overall I know a lot more about music, about myself and the world in general.
“The best part for me was the people. I have made so many new friends at Queen’s. We love and accept each other, we help each other, and we have some mighty banter!
“I couldn’t have asked for a better set of lecturers. Not only are they all so talented and qualified, but they are all amazing, kind, generous and interesting people. I am also grateful for the support I received from the University’s disability services, who made my transition to university smooth and my journey possible.”
Talking about his side-kick, Bart, James added: “Initially, bringing a guide dog to university was a little daunting. Bart is my best friend and the main reason I was able to come to Queen’s in the first place. At the beginning, moving away from home and starting all of this new learning was very exciting but also pretty stressful, and being responsible for another life who needs care and attention was something I worried about a lot. However, thanks to a combination of good friends, university support and a good dog, things settled within the first few weeks and now Bart and I are always looking for new adventures.”
After graduating, James plans on returning to Queen’s to complete his Master’s.
“Now that I've finished my undergrad, I'm preparing myself for another year at Queen’s, this time studying for a Master’s in musical composition. I'm very excited to move forwards and see what life has in store next.”
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