Graduation ceremonies for our School this year were broiling events – with a temperature in the thirties and no air-conditioning, we knew that it was going to be hot! It turns out that, rather surprisingly, academic robes are not as sweltering as you might expect – thank goodness.
Alongside graduation several events were held within the School. During the afternoon there was a celebration for our students that have completed the Professional Track scheme. The scheme is now in its third year and the number of students completing it has increased by 61% this year. What’s even better was being able to talk to our new graduates at the ceremony to find that many have already entered graduate employment and have been able to articulate their experiences as part of the Professional Track in their interviews. Becky White, who has just started an apprenticeship as a copywriter, said “the courses, placements and schemes I have undertaken in order to complete the Professional Track have contributed to providing me with the necessary training skills needed to enter the workplace and begin working in the copywriting and editing industry”.
It was fantastic to see so many parents, supporters, partners and friends at the event, where Dr John McKeane gave an enlightening talk on how the students’ development journey is only just beginning, as well as how to utilise the skills that they have gained throughout the course of their degree. A drinks reception was held, where students received certificates highlighting their achievements and had the opportunity to network amongst their peers. We hope our new graduates keep in touch with us, and that they could be delivering workshops as part of the Professional Track for us very soon – congratulations!
Soon after the Professional Track celebration, on the lawn outside the Department of English Literature, Dr Maddi Davies hosted a book launch for the staff-student collaborative publication, Second Sight: The Margaret Atwood Learning Journals. The book has been generated from the students’ learning journal entries for the ‘Margaret Atwood’ Part 3 module and it was co-edited by a student, Bethany Barnett-Sanders, and designed by June Lin, a Part 2 student from the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication working with the ‘Real Jobs’ scheme. Staff, students and their families basked in the sunshine and collected copies of the book: Professor Emerita Coral Ann Howells, the leading scholar in Atwood studies, comments of the collection: ‘it is ground-breaking, not only as a collective teaching and learning project, but for the most original Atwood criticism I’ve seen for ages. I have been totally enthralled reading the whole book through. It’s a magnificent collection’.
Right after the book launch was the SLL prize giving event held in the Van Emden Theatre. After being welcomed to the event by the Head of School, Professor Gail Marshall, Professors Peter Stoneley, Rodney Jones and Catherine Leglu presented awards and prizes to their well deserving students as heads of their respective departments. Twenty seven awards were handed out to our students for reasons ranging from academic excellence to extra-curricular contribution, resilience and study abroad. The event concluded with celebratory drinks in the foyer outside with new graduates, their parents and staff discussing what was a fantastic day.
These events highlight the hard work our students and staff put in to make the school as successful as it is and rounded off a positive week in which several members of staff received promotions. Notably, Neil Cocks, Maddi Davies, Federico Faloppa and Mark Hutchings were promoted to Associate Professor, while Cindy Becker and Julia Waters were promoted to Professor.
It’s wonderful to see how much we have to celebrate in our School at the end of this session, with not only individual successes of both students and staff, but also collective successes between the two.