I write to you now as a graduate of American Studies from the University of Portsmouth. What an amazing achievement that is; I am very proud of myself.
I graduated on Tuesday 15th July 2014. It was a beautifully sunny day, and I’m pleased the weather remained that way for the rest of the graduation ceremonies. Many pictures were taken of me in the Guildhall Square and Victoria Park by my mother, father, sister and girlfriend who accompanied me on the day. About 2pm we walked into the Guildhall; guests were seated on one side of the hall, while graduands* were seated separately.
*a graduand is someone who is about to receive their degree.
The ceremony opened as the University mace was carried with great grandeur into the hall. The Vice-Chancellor made an opening speech. Rows of us were ushered backstage, then began the march of students across the stage. I felt very nervous as we queued and slowly edged closer to the stage. All of a sudden it was my turn. Dr Ann Mater called my name. For a moment I didn’t think I could move, but suddenly my legs kicked in and my body was drawn as if by some kind of magnetism, towards Sandi Toksvig’s outstretched arm. I couldn’t believe that for a minute moment I was smiling and shaking hands with the famous broadcaster, our University’s Chancellor.
I continued walking back around the stage, then took my seat as the ceremony proceeded. I’m not sure how they can get through so many people in such a short space of time! I felt a great sense of pride sitting with my successful coursemates in our fancy black and purple gowns.
Once all the graduates had been confirmed, Sandi made a very funny and empowering speech which really made me feel positive for my future life after Portsmouth. The academic staff, in their own colourful robes, left the auditorium smiling. Then the guests and graduates proceeded outside. More photos were taken amongst much throwing of tasselled caps, and I was pleased to see a few more friendly faces outside. After my robes and hat were returned, I headed out for a celebratory meal of South American food at ChimiChanga, which I thought was a fitting end to the day.
Overall, it was an amazing day, and the warm weather made it all the better. I always thought it seemed a bit silly, all these people prancing around in stuffy gowns, yet there was a real sense of relief and achievement on the day; a feeling of final closure. My fleeting seconds on stage are a blur to me now, so I’m pleased that all the ceremonies can be seen again online.
On Saturday 19th July I attended the Graduation Ball, held at the Students Union. Still the weather held out for us. I particularly enjoyed the classy live music, group photo booth, shisha, food stalls, bars, face painting, silent disco and club room. It was another amazing night of celebration, and a chance to say goodbye to my classmates on an informal basis. After six hours of partying my feet had given in, meaning I didn’t make the survivors photo at 5am. Nonetheless, what a memorable night it was!
There’s not much more to say now. After three years of hard work, I felt the graduation day was well earned. It’s a day which will stick in my mind forever.
I did it!