Graduation - "It was worth the wait!"



“It was special to finally come together”

Billie-Gina Thomason, 29, a lecturer in History, is the first person in her family to go to university and she hasn’t gone once but three times! 

“I’m really proud to complete my university journey at LJMU – my BA, MA and now my PhD.”

The 29-year-old, from Liverpool was “super-excited” to finally graduate.

“It has been two years in the making and I feel like me and my family have been waiting for it for so long. Obviously covid has made things difficult for everyone over the last couple of years but it is just so special to be coming together with the rest of the 2020 cohort to finally celebrate all of our achievements.”

She has a special liking for the pomp and fanfare of graduation but says the experience was slightly bittersweet. “I was thrilled to walk across that stage and officially become ‘Dr Billie-Gina Thomason’ but also a touch sad because she it was her last opportunity wear the hat and gown.” (She wore it the whole day!)

Billie-Gina’s research explores historic gender nonconformity and trans history in nineteenth century Britain and says it has allowed her to meet so many amazing people.

“I have been a part of Light Night, curated an exhibition in Liverpool Central Library, been featured on the radio, and have spoken at Oxford University. Hopefully this is just the start for me and I can continue to talk about the importance of trans history and celebrate gender nonconformity!

Congratulations to everyone who will be graduating this week, you have all worked so hard and you should all be so proud of your achievements! #ClassOf2020

“It was worth the wait”

Yeni Aqoari, senior faculty administrator in Business & Law says: “It was worth the wait after two years since achieving my MA in Human Resource Management, to finally graduate and it was great to see so many students share the feeling of joy with their partners and parents.

“The whole ceremony had the right balance of tradition and reflection that acknowledged all that we and the university have been through recently. Being recognised by the academic staff was a wonderful moment and I am already applying my new-found knowledge in my work. Congratulations to everyone!”

“I’m fortunate to share this with the people that mean the most to me”

Matthew Hindmarsh wasn’t sure he’d even get into university and now he’s Dr Hindmarsh!

The lecturer in Sport Business with Media (B&L) says: “Anyone who has achieved a doctorate or any degree for that matter knows how much blood, sweat and tears goes into it – so I guess I know now I have resilience and determination and that I can do anything I set my mind to.

“All those years ago, I was not even sure whether I had the capability to attend university and now I’m a lecturer/ senior lecturer where I did both my undergraduate and PhD. So naturally I’m very, very proud. Having this doctorate has opened doors I would have never imagined being open to me so now I can pass on the knowledge I have gained to others (both students and wider society); That’s something I am extremely passionate about doing.”

Matthew, who attended his girlfriend’s ceremony this week too, said it was a relief to finally graduate: “It feels it has been a long time coming given I completed my thesis in October 2020. It was really special and I was fortunate enough to be able to share it with the people that mean the most to me and have supported me through every step of my journey.”

“A real buzz with most having not seen each other for two years”

Michael Monaghan says his Masters in Advanced Educational Practice has really enhanced how he does his job at LJMU, where he works as a Leadership and Development Adviser. And he believes  colleagues, particularly professional services staff, could consider what such a route would do for them and their careers.

Michael’s Masters focussed on teaching and learning and Active Learning, which he applies to his sessions on staff development. He said: “It is definitely my biggest achievement. Completing the Masters alongside my job while navigating my way through having two children, getting married, moving house and spine surgery, was challenging but character building. It is really wonderful looking back and seeing how all the sacrifice and hard work was worth it. I’m now thinking about a PhD!

And he thanked LJMU for organising the catch-up ceremonies for 2020 graduates. “It was amazing that LJMU was still able to hold graduation ceremonies for all the students who missed out because of the pandemic.

“The ceremony itself was great. I loved that my wife and mum were able to be there to support me, and it was brilliant seeing colleagues I hadn’t seen for a while who had volunteered to work at the ceremony; like Tracy Westergren helping me with my graduation name card and Phil Bakstad helping to fix my gown and hood before walking across stage. There was also a real buzz amongst the Graduands, with most having not seen each other for two years, and our Vice Chancellor Mark Power’s speech was really inspiring. It was certainly a memorable evening for me.”

“I was excited just to cross that stage”

Maya Deshpande, who works in the Accommodation & Student Living Team, graduates in BSc Criminology and Psychology.

“I never thought when I left Northern Ireland to start my degree that I would still be in Liverpool almost five years later and I think that’s a testament to how much I loved my time at LJMU. I also never expected to finish my degree at home in a pandemic and to get to graduate two years later really reminds me of how big an achievement that was.

“It’s so exciting to have the experience to cross that stage knowing I achieved a first class degree and have my friends and family celebrate with me. It also feels like a class reunion I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, seeing my friends’ career progression over the past two years as well!

“It was lovely to hear all the speeches about everybody’s achievements”

Aimee Woods, Research Assistant in the School of Psychology, gained her MSc in Health Psychology after researching how to reduce opioid prescriptions for chronic pain patients.

Aimee says: “It was lovely to finally be able to graduate amongst the class of 2020 and hear the speeches about all the amazing achievements that both staff and students have attained over the course of the pandemic and how LJMU has adapted and evolved since completing my masters in 2020. 

“Completing my MSc in Health Psychology has been really important for me, both personally and professionally. It has given me improved knowledge and skills and allowed me to further myself in a professional capacity, that I have been able to exert in my role in research at LJMU!

 Kevin Mannix (pictured with Amy) works in the same Faculty of Health as a lecturer in Nursing. He graduates with a Masters in Advanced Healthcare Practice. 




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