At UCA Rochester we are lucky enough to celebrate our graduation ceremony in one of my favourite venues – The Royal Festival Hall in London. I have seen many bands perform here so I was very excited to finally be able to share a stage with my musical heroes. That’s how it works in my head, anyway. The reality was slightly different.
The Royal Festival Hall
With our course, Silversmithing Goldsmithing and Jewellery, the timing of the graduation ceremony is a little strange. Usually the ceremony comes after the degree and related shows have finished, and as such is a chance to celebrate your degree and have one big send off with all your course mates. However ours falls the week before the biggest show of our degree, New Designers (more on that in the next blog) so we were still seeing each other every day in the workshop preparing for the show, so it was less of an emotional farewell and more of a welcome celebratory break from the hard work.
As the ceremony was fairly early in the day my parents stayed over in London the previous night, so I collected them on my way to the Hall. First port of call was collecting my gown, where I was ushered across to a helper who pinned it to my dress to stop it from slipping down my back, and perched the mortar board on top of my head. Luckily the weather was kind to us and didn’t rain so crowds of excited students and proud parents were gathering inside and outside the hall. Slowly I started to find my course mates and we waited to be ushered inside for the start of the ceremony while our parents talked to our tutors.
Lots of cheesy photo ops before the ceremony
To be honest it all went by in a bit of a blur – we were treated to some speeches from various people about how well we had done and how we should be proud of ourselves, and course by course we were taken to the backstage area to take our turn to walk on stage, shake the hand of Zandra Rhodes and collect our certificate. All I remember was thinking “try not to let that thing fall off your head” as I walked across to be greeted by Zandra. My friends told me they cheered for me, and I know the hall was filled with applause as it had been for every other graduate, but I don’t remember hearing a single thing. The best moment of the entire ceremony had to be the graduate who spotted his mum as he walked on stage, shouted THERES MY MUM and started waving at her frantically, so frantically in fact that he completely bypassed shaking Zandra’s hand - he didn’t even notice her standing there! Zandra couldn’t stop laughing and shook her head in disbelief. The entire hall was roaring with laughter.
Taken shortly after we walked across the stage, all relieved that no one had tripped or lost their mortarboard!
We headed outside, stopping first to get a free glass of bubbly or two (or three) to find our parents and tutors before eventually heading our separate ways – but it wasn’t goodbye as we still had New Designers the following week and most of us would be back in the workshop the following day to put the finishing touches to our pieces.
It was quite an emotional day (Sorry Abi!)
When you start a degree your main priority is the qualification. But as the three years go by you start to realise actually it’s about so much more than that; the abilities you learn, both personal and course related, the knowledge, the opportunities afforded to you through the course, the student discounts (!), the highs and lows, the adventures, but most of all the friendships forged with those people who shared all of that with you.