Graduation success on the menu for head chef and family



Heriot-Watt’s head chef is set for a double-helping of graduation success next week when his son and daughter collect their degrees.

For more than 20 years, Jamie Jack has worked in the heat of the Heriot-Watt kitchen preparing dishes for the University’s catering needs. As in previous years, the Livingston man will oversee kitchen duties throughout the upcoming Winter graduation ceremonies, which begin this weekend at the Edinburgh campus. But in a rare break with tradition, he will temporarily change out of his Chef whites when his son Jamie junior and daughter, Chloe, collect their academic qualifications in front of friends and family.  

The siblings started at the University in 2017 with Jamie studying Software Development and Chloe enrolled onto a course for British Sign Language (BSL), translation and interpreting. Four years later and the pair will get the opportunity to don their graduation gowns at ceremonies held within Oriam, Scotland's Sports Performance Centre.

For Jamie senior and his wife, Lesley, who also works at the University as a Senior Administration Assistant, the graduations are an opportunity to celebrate. He said: “I’m immensely proud of both of them for their hard work and determination to attend University and to both graduate. For us to be able to celebrate their achievement in the same week is absolutely fantastic and something I’m sure the whole family will remember.

“Our youngest daughter is currently doing an HNC course at Glasgow Clyde College so hopefully she will get accepted to study Engineering Design and Manufacture at the University next year.”

He finished: “For years I have been working in the kitchen preparing food for our graduations but this will be the first time that I will be on the other side!”

Jamie junior began his Heriot-Watt journey when he enrolled onto the Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) programme to complete a course in Software Development. The GA scheme allowed the 23-year-old to combine his studies with his full-time job as a Software Engineer at aerospace engineering company Leonardo in Edinburgh. What makes the GA programme different to a traditional degree is that students split their time between lectures, tutorials and their day job. Leonardo’s Software Graduate Apprentices can apply the learning they have acquired from Heriot-Watt University on live engineering programmes.

After years of hard work, a delighted Jamie, who will graduate with a 2:1 in Software Development for Business BSc (Hons) on Wednesday 8 December, said the GA scheme had worked for him.

“The Graduate Apprenticeship course was fantastic and allowed me to upskill while remaining in paid employment,” he said.

“Having now reached the end of this programme, I feel a great sense of achievement and excitement for the next part of my career. With the new skills I have learnt through my graduate apprenticeship, I will progress my career at Leonardo even further to become more effective in my role as a software engineer.

“And picking up my degree in the same week as my sister is an added bonus!”

His older sister Chloe is no stranger to Heriot-Watt University having worked as a catering assistant alongside her father for a number of years prior to her studies. They even worked together when providing the catering for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to the University’s Scottish Borders Campus in 2013.

On Friday (December 10) the 30-year-old will collect her degree after achieving a 2:2 in British Sign Language with interpreting, translation and applied language. Chloe, who has established herself as a freelance sign language interpreter, said: “It’s absolutely amazing to be graduating after putting in so much hard work. I am very proud of myself as university was never something I thought was for me. However, I have just had a baby and I’m looking forward to spending time with him and getting back to my freelance business in the new year.” 

A total of 12 graduation ceremonies are being held at the University between December 4 - 10 marking the academic achievement of students from the School of Social Sciences, the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society, the School of Textiles & Design, and the School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences.


Craig McManamon