It might not have been the graduation they dreamed of, but hundreds of Aberdeen University students have celebrated their success this week.
With the pandemic halting the usual ceremony at Elphinstone Hall for the second summer in a row, graduates tuned in for a virtual ceremony.
Future doctors, engineers, teachers, marine biologists, conservationists, lawyers, accountants, and sociologists were among those surrounded by their loved ones for the celebrations.
While they may have swapped their graduation gowns and mortarboards for the occasion, the university’s vice-principal of education Ruth Taylor said she was hugely proud of the “resilience” this year’s cohort has shown over the last 18 months.
The full list of graduates is available here.
Below are some of the inspiring stories of people from across the north of Scotland who are toasting their success. Click on their names to read more.
Determination pays off for junior doctor Thomas
Nearly a decade after he first applied to study medicine, Thomas Lumsden is celebrating his second graduation – and securing his first job with the NHS.
The 28-year-old, from Aberdeen, got knocked back twice before being accepted to the course – which he joined after securing a first class in biomedical science.
Now Mr Lumsden, who is engaged to Sara, is looking forward to starting a training programme for junior doctors next month and believes his placement during the Covid pandemic will be invaluable.
Footballer scores top engineering award
For Kirsty Pratt, studying mechanical engineering at Aberdeen University was a dream come true.
The 22-year-old landed a prestigious award for her dissertation, but even that does not top her list of highlights for the last four years.
Miss Pratt, from Aberdeen, joined the women’s football team and said the camaraderie of the sports teams made it feel like they were all “one big family”.
Conservationist hopes to save world ‘one bug at a time’
Natalie Duffus, 22, from Westhill, graduated with a Bsc in conservation biology and is now preparing to head to Oxford University to continue her studies.
The nature lover hopes to come up with research that will influence conservation and policy, and make people see what an important role insects in particular play in the environment.
She said she has made some friends for life through her course, and that everyone graduating this year should feel “exceptionally proud” of finishing in a global pandemic.
Legal eagle looks forward to making a difference
For Meegan Anderson, joining Aberdeen University opened up opportunities that will be invaluable when she starts her first job at a law firm.
The 23-year-old joined the Aberdeen Law Project, which gives students hands-on experience with real legal cases, and loved knowing she was “making a difference” for her clients.
She added: “Being a lawyer is probably one of the most rewarding jobs and it’s fantastic to know that you’ve helped your clients with what probably has been a huge problem for them and you’ve lifted the weight of their shoulders.
She has graduated with a diploma in professional legal practice, with distinction, and is heading home to Thurso to begin her traineeship at MacDonald Law.
Career change for Rothes nurse and mum
It’s not easy swapping careers, but Esther Burns has managed to do – while also juggling nursing shifts and looking after her three children.
The 37-year-old, from Rothes, worked for the NHS for 10 years before deciding she wanted to become a primary teacher.
Home schooling her own kids during the pandemic added to the challenge, but Mrs Burns is now a proud Aberdeen University graduate and looking forward to starting her probationary year in Moray after the holidays.
Following the family’s footsteps
For Heather Anderson, there was only ever one career in mind: teaching.
Both her parents are teachers, and the 24-year-old said she couldn’t imagine herself in another job.
The 24-year-old, from Forres, has graduated from Aberdeen University’s PGDE primary teaching degree and plans to now do a masters of education.
She is already looking forward to see her pupils flourish in the future, and said: “It’s amazing how sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact – seeing how proud they are of themselves and of their achievements, makes me feel proud.”