I meant to write a post about the most recent book I’ve finished reading (Awakenings) and the incredible film inspired by it but I didn’t get the time. I started writing about it today but I couldn’t not mention how my week’s been and the post became ridiculously long.
So I decided to dedicate this post my Solent Graduation week experience.
I had an amazing week (although my feet and back still hurt but totally and utterly worth it) and I’d love to share the highlights with you.
The week didn’t start that well, I felt very unproductive for the last 10 days, thinking of what to do now, what to do next and I had this stubborn cold that wouldn’t go away, which made me feel even worse. But the week got better, way better than I thought.
On Tuesday I handed our Snowdonia climb money to my lovely friend Dan who is part of Tempo Wellbeing and will be planning a festival very soon with the amount we raised. So happy we helped such a wonderful cause. Thank you again to every single one of you who shared/donated. We wouldn’t have done it without you.
From Wednesday until yesterday I had the most amazing time helping out with the 2017 Southampton Solent Graduation.
I’ve worked at Solent for the last 6 years but this was the first time I’ve volunteered for this and I’m incredibly proud and honoured I got to play a tiny part in it.
I love being around people, having interesting conversations, learning from others and I seize every opportunity to get out of the office, so I’m very happy I was given the chance to be part of our Graduation.
My main responsibility (on top of selling water, crowd control and general advice and guidance) was getting our graduates on stage. I fixed their gowns and hats, comforted them when they felt nervous and reminding them to take a breath and smile. What a lovely feeling to see the smile and excitement on their face.
I, as many of my colleagues who are not academics, sit in front of a PC for 8 hours every day, doing our best to keep the system up to date and working, making sure their fees are correct and on the system on time, spending hours and days updating fee regulations and so on and although I’m aware how our work impacts on our students’ experience, we don’t get to interact with students or follow their journey until the end.
To watch them graduate after three years of swimming in the adult sea, learning how to live on their own, trying hard to find a balance between partying and studying was incredible.
Some of our students, as a lot of students do, struggled with personal issues, disability, mental and physical health issues. And I felt immensely proud to watch them get on that stage.
Needless to say it got emotional a couple of times. One of my favourite moments was a sweet, young lady, who was on a wheelchair but didn’t want to use it on stage, walking up the stairs and the crowd clapping and cheering her on. It still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
I cried when a brave mum who got up on stage to accept the degree on behalf of her son, who died recently. She was accompanied by her son’s classmates who some of them also worked at graduation, filming.
I was proud to watch one of the students I knew under my previous role at SSU, who worked for the University calling graduates asking them to complete the graduate survey, graduate himself a couple of years later. Congratulations Ben!
And although I did not know them personally, I was extremely proud for all Cypriot students who graduated this week. Out of everyone, I can understand best how tough it can get living alone in a foreign country, let alone when you are so young.
I loved the singer, who sang for all ten graduations and graduated herself on Wednesday. I later found she is Greek. I knew as soon as I heard her voice! Amazing voice (and hair!). She will definitely go far.
We also had lots of fun! As you’d expect. One of the reasons I love Solent is people. Most of them are the loveliest, sweetest, funniest people I’ve ever met. I loved our chats when we got some time to sit down and rest, running up and down in our gowns, Steve Carter pretending to through his graduation book to me every time he saw me, free ice cream, lots of laughter on the MASSIVE deck chairs. Taking photo on the chairs with our boss was definitely one of the highlights!
Some of the funniest bits was watching our lovely Academics doing their best to pronounce difficult names. Martin Skivington pronouncing a name which unfortunately included the f word in the surname made everyone in the room burst into laughing.
I can’t finish this post without thanking the graduation team and especially Sarah Bishop, the organiser, the brain, the main lady behind this. Sarah has not only worked hard for a year, as she does every year, to organise the graduation ceremonies to perfection, but she was there to deal with everything thrown at her. Angry, rude guests who haven’t booked tickets and demanded to be let in although the ceremony was fully booked, students who haven’t finished their degree but showed up anyway, personally taking care of graduates who were feeling ill on the day and many many more other little and big things who happened during last week. Superwoman!
To all of our graduates, if any happens to read this post, if I could give you one piece of advice is to live your life to the full and chase your dreams NOW, whatever they might be. Even if you think they are too big or too ambitious. Go for it. Don’t wait. Never wait.
What an amazing experience. If I’m still at Solent next year, although I hope I’d moved on by then, I’d love to be a part of it again.
If not, it will always be one of the most tiring, exhausting but beautiful moments of my life.
Enjoy your weekend everyone! I’m spending mine resting my feet.
I’ll post again in the next couple of days. And it will be all about Awakenings.
Love you all
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