It was a day to remember for students at Aberdeen University as they were able to take to the stage to graduate after carrying out most of their studies online due to Covid.
Hundreds of jubilant masters and PhD students graduated from Aberdeen University today at the first in-person ceremony in two years.
Principal and vice-chancellor George Boyne opened the winter graduations by welcoming relatives and students to Teca where the celebrations were taking place.
He explained that graduations at Aberdeen University are always special events, however, this one was “extraordinary” due to it being the first one in two years.
The graduation ceremonies are normally held in the university’s historic and elaborate Elphinstone Hall. However, due to social distancing restrictions, they moved the winter graduation to the larger venue.
The event complex was adorned with university flags and blue and gold balloons, as students donning traditional robes gathered to celebrate their achievements with relatives and classmates.
Wednesday was the first of the ceremonies for the week as students graduated in biology, biological sciences, medical sciences, engineering, geology and psychology.
Graduating cohort the ‘agents of change’
The first of the two ceremonies of the day saw just over 200 students graduating in biological and medical sciences.
Siladitya Bhattacharya, the head of the school of medicine, offered the opening address before the proud graduates began taking to the stage. She highlighted the importance of the role of science in health care in dealing with Covid.
The professor encouraged the graduating body to see themselves as the “agents of change” with the power to change the world as they move on from their studies.
Head of School of Biological Sciences, Graeme Paton, also offered his congratulations to students.
He explained that in the room sat the future leaders in government, education, research, commerce, industry, and entrepreneurship.
The professor asked how the post-Covid world and climate crisis might further change our perception of “normal”.
He said: “Perhaps normal is not normal it is simply a phase of transition. As graduates we need the agility and skills to address the challenges laid down in this new “not normal world”.
“Martin Luther King Junior said ‘intelligence plus character: that is the goal of true education’ and that is what you will leave this hall with today.”
‘Carry this light with you’
In the second ceremony, 160 students celebrated graduating in geology, engineering and psychology.
Head of the school of engineering, Ekaterina Pavlovskaia praised the students for surviving lockdown and finding the “new norm” of studying and working.
She concluded her speech by saying: “As the old Russian saying goes ‘learning is light, ignorance is darkness’. Go out in the world and carry this light with you whenever you go in pursuit of truth in the service of others.”
Meanwhile, the interim head of the school of natural and computing sciences, Angel Cuesta Ciscar, gave the final graduation address of the day.
He explained that although the graduation ceremony may seem like an end-point, it is actually the start of an exciting new period of life.
Mr Ciscar urged the graduating body to contribute to making the world a better place, reassuring that they will always have the support of the university.
He said: “You are leaving the University today, but you will always be a part of this institution and of the Aberdeen family. Be proud of it, because we are proud of you.”