The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of students and their families as LJMU’s Graduation Week 2016 got underway at Liverpool Cathedral.
Monday 11 July saw the first of the ceremonies taking place and for the first time in the University’s history, Hope Street was closed to traffic in order to provide a safe and secure official route for our students and their guests. The closure also gives a sense of ‘place’ for this major city celebration.
Students from the School of Humanities and Social Science graduated in the morning, while students from the Liverpool School of Art and Design and the Liverpool Screen School gathered in the afternoon to celebrate their achievements.
Andrew Stevens-Davies, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in History and English, was described as an "exceptional" student by his tutor and has been "innovative in his approach to his studies" alongside his work as a Special Constable. He chose the University due to its outstanding reputation.
Completing the course has given him two important qualities: patience and persistence: "I’ve learned patience with myself and come to understand that things don't always happen at once, rather they take time to develop especially when it's knowledge of a subject. Persistence in the pursuit of obtaining a consistently high standard and maintaining it throughout my academic career. Aside from these I have also developed more practical skills including computing and digital awareness, both of which I believe are vital in the digital age."
As part of his degree, he also completeda summer internship in Slovenia, plus his own project in Thailand where he helped teach English. "None of this would have been possible without the funding and support provided by LJMU and their amazing staff, and to them I’d like to say thank you." Andrew is now looking to do a Masters in Cultural History before embarking on a teaching career.
Julie Blaney, (pictured centre with her daughter Lily, and lecturers Dr Kay Standing and Netti Porter) who studied part time for a BA (Hons) in English, is a mature student and independent parent. She was acknowledged for her student advocacy work including working as a mature Student Co-ordinator with outreach. She also worked with the charity Tender to encourage healthy relationships and to give young people knowledge and confidence to empower themselves.
Becky Nesbitt, graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Criminology and Psychology.
Becky is now taking a year of varied work experience, starting with a six week mental health placement in Sri Lanka. She added: "This will incorporate a number of new challenges and experiences for me which will hopefully enable me to finish with a clear understanding of what type of setting I wish to work in the future."
During the morning ceremony, the University conferred Dr John Cater with his Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding contribution to education and teacher training. His citation was presented by outgoing Chief Constable of Merseyside Police Sir Jon Murphy, soon to be taking a position at LJMU’s Centre for Advanced Policing Studies.
Dr John Cater has been Vice-Chancellor at Edge Hill University since 1993 and is the longest serving head of any education institution in the country.
Describing LJMU as a "generous neighbour" to Edge Hill, John said that he was absolutely delighted with being honoured. He commented: "It is an award I could not possibly have dreamed of. I first came to LJMU 42 years ago and it has had a significant place in my heart ever since. To those graduating I’d say enjoy today, you’ve had three years of undoubted hard work. It’s a transformational time in your life going to university, so reflect on the experience and all you’ve achieved, but have faith in what you can achieve in the future as well."
You can read the full oration for Dr John Cater here
Lew Kelly, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing, is editor of Lifejacket anthology, which raises funds for refugees. He said: "I've really enjoyed my experience as a student. We are enveloped in culture on the course, through the tutors, events, museums and galleries. I've learnt how to use culture in my work and gained a lot of confidence in myself as a person and a writer. I've learnt how to work to deadlines, and what it's like to live as a writer, and not just a person who writes."
Speaking about the LJMU staff, he said: "The support from tutors throughout the project was great. The tutors were friendly and gifted, and I felt lucky to be studying with such experienced writers. LJMU has been vital in establishing a network of writers that I can carry throughout my career. I've met so many talented people and we will continue to workshop ideas and keep on improving. I felt valued and listened to as a LJMU student."
Lew is now doing work experience at Manchester University Press and hopes to establish a career in publishing as an editor.
Susan Sumner, graduating with a BA (Hons) in the History of Art, is a part-time mature student, who worked in primary schools prior to her degree where she provided arts activities. Her course leader Dr Emma Roberts said: "Susan has always been very motivated and has been a delight to teach. While pregnant with her second child, she still worked continuously and came back to studies immediately. In her final year Susan curated an exhibition based on the subject of her dissertation ‘The Art of the Skateboard’. This is an emerging art form and Susan is at the forefront of research in this area."
Susan is now planning to enrol on the Liverpool School of Art's MRes in Art and Design in September and hopes to write a book on skateboard art in the future.
Conor Allison, who graduates with a First Class Honours degree in Journalism, is already making waves in the world of media as a freelance technology news writer for online news website Digital Spy. Conor chose LJMU for the outstanding facilities at the Redmond’s building, admitting that he was able to compare the standard to other universities during the Open Day which convinced him that LJMU would be the ideal place to develop a range of journalistic skills that would serve him well in a professional career.
"I've developed a host of practical skills, such as learning industry-standard practices within writing, interviewing and how this varies between mediums, but I've also developed a confidence and a range of communicative skills that are essential in the industry. The journalism course sets you up for this by giving you the opportunity to essentially become a trainee journalist after becoming comfortable with the basics and discovering where you would like to specialise.
"I've been given the platform and opportunity to cover some big stories, such as the Hillsborough Inquests and Liverpool playing in the Europa League. With these events important to the city, it was a privilege to be trusted with writing these for publication. Having a strong interest in football, being able to use my university portfolio to secure work experience with FourFourTwo magazine was something I was really proud of."
Receiving an Honorary Fellowship in the afternoon ceremony was Emma Rodgers, an internationally renowned sculptor. One of her sculptures, of a Liver Bird, was a centrepiece in the Cathedral.
"It is a great privilege to be surrounded by so many fellow artists and emerging talents especially in such a great location as Liverpool Cathedral" said Emma. "I have been lucky enough to have great family, friends, patrons and gallerists who have sparked my imagination, inspired me and offered friendship as my career has progressed. Art is everywhere, and is the beginning of everything. It is not just on canvas and in bronze but woven in to the fabric of everyday society. I never thought I would get such an honour as this but the advice I would give to everyone graduating today would be to surround yourself with positive people, don’t burn bridges, keep an enquiring mind, indulge your creativity and most of all, be kind."
You can read the full oration for Emma Rodgers here
Award-winning poet Creative Writing lecturer Andrew McMillan received the Vice-Chancellor's Medal for excellence. His collection 'Physical' has had a powerful international influence, scooping a host of awards including the Guardian first book award - the first poetry collection to make the shortlist in a decade. 'Physical' was also nominated for the Costa book prize.
Charlie Smith, Senior Lecturer in Architecture from Liverpool School of Art and Design received the Teaching and Learning Award from Dean of Faculty, Professor Joe Yates for demonstrating over the years a strong student-centred approach to his teaching and research in Architecture and Urban Design. He has led modules on the undergraduate and masters programmes and has used his teaching informed research to contribute to the development of consistently high performance of the Architecture programme in National Student Surveys. In recent years this research activity has intensified and he has become a key player in School, Faculty and University initiatives in teaching and learning. He has published widely in the field of Design Education and most recently won an Emerald Literati Award for one of his papers on teaching generated research. His national expertise in this field was confirmed by his appointment as part of the Farrell Review of Education in Architecture and Built Environment in 2013.
Paula Baines, Student Development Co-ordinator for the Screen School also picked up a Teaching and Learning Award from Professor Joe Yates. This award acknowledged her outstanding work in creating numerous links between students and employers and finding innovative ways to enhance the student experience while also improving employability skills.
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