Matteo
Matteo Sillitti

A mature student has spoken of his 'life-changing experience' ahead of his graduation at Heriot-Watt University this week.

Matteo Sillitti receives his 2:1 degree in Construction Project Management on Thursday 20 June in front of proud family members at the University's Edinburgh Campus.

It will be a memorable day for the 29-year-old who recalls leaving St Thomas of Aquin's high school aged 16 with around six Standard Grades before beginning a joinery apprenticeship in 2005.

Over the following 10 years, Matteo worked in various roles within the construction industry and travelled the world, including Singapore, Australia and Thailand.

But it was in 2011, after returning to Italy to find work and possibly stay for good, that fate would intervene, eventually sending Matteo down the route of academia.

He explains: "Not long after I arrived in Italy, I received a call from my old boss who told me he had a job for me.

"I flew back to Scotland to accept but if I hadn't, then I would never have ended up at Heriot-Watt."

For the next four years, Matteo worked as a bench hand joiner. During this time, looking to learn new things he enrolled on a two-year project management HNC at West Lothian College, where his talent for the industry and academia was spotted by his tutor.

He said: "The real inspiration behind me ending up at Heriot-Watt was my tutor at West Lothian College, John Gheel, who recommended that I went on to university.

"I had a look at a few different options but it didn't take long for me to realise Heriot-Watt was the best fit for me."

Matteo went straight into the second year of the Construction Project Management BSc, eventually winning the title as 'the most improved student' earning him £150 cash prize, which he has used to buy a suit for his graduation.

He is now employed by the construction firm Robertson as a graduate site-manager and hopes to use his skills to build his career.

Matteo finished: "I didn't start university until later on in life. Most people think once they finish school then they need to start university. That is not always the case. As long as you have the drive and determination then coming to university later, once you have a few years life experience, is a fantastic option and it really has been a life-changing experience for me."