So, yesterday I graduated…
After 7 years of hard work, I finally graduated from university!
I studied for a BA(Hons) Humanities with Religious Studies and Philosophy specialisms, for which I received a 2.1.
I have been dreading this day…
I have been saying for years I didn’t want to attend graduation. It’s too many people, it’s lots of pressure, smart clothes…all things I struggle with. I wouldn’t say I was forced to attend, but I was very strongly pressured into it. I’m really glad that I attended.
On the day…
The ceremony was held at Ely Cathedral – an absolutely beautiful building about 6 miles down the road from me.
The sun was shining all day (until literally the second we got in the car to come home). As you can see, the place was packed out, and it’s not even half full in that picture.
First, I had to get my robes. It was about a thousand degrees in the Lady Chapel of the cathedral where the robing happened – I genuinely thought I might die. It all felt a bit weird, and I really wasn’t into it until I got outside with all the other graduates in their robes.
I have never really felt much university pride, what with the Open University being a distance learning provider – but suddenly I was brimming with it. I felt so proud to be walking around in my robes with my fellow grads. It was awesome.
We had to sit through a great deal of organ music – which I’m not a fan of at the best of times, but it was certainly loud.
As an autistic person with a serious anxiety disorder, I find change and the unknown impossible to handle. As such, I was incredibly fortunate to have the support of the Open University staff in order to get me through the ceremony.
They organised it so my mum and dad could sit next to me – on the front row no less – then they ran through exactly how things where supposed to work. When it was my time to hit the stage, a staff member came and found me and took me to where I needed to go, reminding me exactly what was going to happen.
They took our pictures of us shaking the hand of the pro-vice chancellor of the University as he handed us our certificates – I’ve only seen such a genuine grin on my face a couple of times in my entire life.
The awards went on for ages. There were just so many graduates – every one looking so proud and happy.
Somewhere in the middle, they awarded Baroness Rebuck ‘Doctor of the University’ (I think). She has worked really hard to stress the importance of reading and literacy and to encourage people to read – especially those who can’t or don’t – I really respect that and was inspired by her, as reading has been such an important part of my life. I had a bit of a chat with her afterwards which was pretty cool (I never strike up conversations with strangers). To the left is a picture to prove it actually happened!
To close the ceremony, the pro-vice chancellor gave a speech about what the Open University means, and how we should be proud of our hard work and proud of our University. At this point I was absolutely overflowing with University pride and it felt amazing. I felt part of something bigger, something precious. Something I didn’t want to let go of. Something I want to be a part of for years to come.
When the ceremony was finished, all the graduates and collected staff had a procession through the cathedral. Since I was at the front, I ended up second in the procession after the staff and such – if I felt important swanning around in my robes, it was nothing compared to that procession. It was awe inspiring. There I was, in the midst of my fellow students, parading through a sea of well-wishers. It was easily the most incredible experience of my life.
Afterwards, we went through to the garden of the Old Palace – I have no idea what that building actually is or indeed was.
This was a really beautiful moment – just to sea so many of us in our blue and gold robes. A display of hard work and dedication. Champagne was kicking around, although I don’t drink so I had apple juice.
It was a truly spectacular day. I feel proud of what I have achieved. I feel proud to be an Open Universty Alumnus, and I hope to be able to play a part in the universities Alumni Association. I cannot wait to dive right back in to my next degree with the OU – a BSc in Computing and Information Technology.