Today was winter graduation day at the University. One of my jobs as Deputy Head of School was to award the prizes to students across a wide range of MSc courses and, of course, say a few words of wisdom and prompt a little more clapping on top of the hour of solid applause during the ceremony. I can’t pretend it is a duty that I find easy but I am very happy to take part.
Graduation ceremonies are an important part of the academic cycle. It is a bit of theatre I suppose, where we the academics play our part in our robes and show our appreciation of the achievements of our students. It is a day of celebration and a rite of passage for them. I enjoy watching the students cross the stage and seeing the clear pride in some of the faces. I feel pride too- some of our students breeze through their degrees but others go about it the hard way. Those who go on the difficult journey are the ones I remember the most and an extra clap is often in order.
I’ve done it a few times myself now as a student and have always enjoyed it and had a good celebration with family. The value was rather poignantly demonstrated today when a father took to the stage to receive his son’s posthumous PhD. It is a huge shame that not all of my academic colleagues take a morning out to go along to the ceremony. There are regular attenders, occasional attenders and a cohort that never go. The latter group need someone to have a bit of ‘a word’ I think. If the Vice Chancellor can find the time, then what’s their excuse?
This year saw the first class of MSc Nutritional Sciences students graduate and it was great to see that several of our international students had made it to the ceremony. The MSc was originally my baby- a course that I started on the road to reality about 3 years ago, so I take particular satisfaction from having our first class graduate and an even bigger group already at the end of their first semester of study.
Pictured are myself, Sarah Iqbal and Prof Steve Harding (Picture by Mike Beard)