Saturday, 10 November 2012

Graduation 2012

Sometimes when working in HE it is too easy to become swamped by all the pressure. We live in an atmosphere of government enforced financial cuts and ever increasing expectations. We are meant to be research active but finding the time can be incredibly difficult. Consequently it is too easy to lose sight of what we are actually doing.

Yesterday was graduation day for the students I taught last academic year. Unfortunately I wasn't able to go into the ceremony as I was teaching but I raced down afterwards. With another colleague we stood at the entrance to Winchester Cathedral and waited. Soon a long winding line of excited students, all dressed in black, purple and cream flowed out of the double doors to the applause of lecturers. It is the most wonderful pageant.

They were as excited to see me and Mel as I was to see them on their special day.  I was amazed and delighted that despite their excitement every single one of them said, 'thank you for teaching me, I had the best time ever.' Yes, I must confess that was a thrill to hear but what I didn't expect and what totally blew my mind was the number of their parents who came up to me and shook my hand saying 'Thank you for taking care of them.  I have heard so much about you. You supported them so much. Thank you.'

I apologise if this sounds like I am blowing my own trumpet but it made me realise how the little things can matter. The taking time to listen when things aren't going great. To share in their joy when they are. They are all simple things that I don't think we even think about as lecturers, its what all of us do. But it can make a huge difference. Thinking about it afterwards I thought that I should know  and understand this of all people. I wouldn't be a lecturer with a PhD if it hadn't been the fact that I too had had lecturers, who have now become friends, that supported me and encouraged me throughout my degrees. They gave me the world and I hope that I have passed that on to my students.

Congratulations to the 2012 Creative Writing graduates, you were  a fabulous lot and I am proud of every single one of you. Thank you also for reminding me how great it is to be a lecturer.

It just had to be - an oldie but a goody - 'Winchester Cathedral

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