Today, at Oxford Brookes University, we celebrate the graduation of the students that joined our MSc Marketing and MSc eMarketing programme in September 2011. It is a wonderful occasion – the students come back with their families and we celebrate their achievements together. I am bursting with pride for them.
The students’ names are called out loud and they come to the stage, one by one. To me, this is a poignant reminder that getting a degree is about the individuals, as well as the group – yes, it is the individual student that graduates, but it is a group effort… it is about their peers, their families, the staff… and those that graduated before them and those that will follow. We are all the better because we are part of this learning community.
As I watch the graduating students walk down the stage, and I applaud what they have become, I also recall what they were like when the programme started. Some were anxious, others oozed confidence… all of them had so much potential. I am incredibly proud of them, and I am ridiculously excited for what they have yet to achieve.
While I celebrate for – and with – the students that graduate, I can not help thinking about those that did not make it to the finish line. Life has thrown incredible challenges at some of those students and diverted them from this particular path. But I still think of them as part of this community and I root for them just the same… and I secretly hope that one day, they, too, will have their name called out loud, and walk down that stage to the sound of our claps.
PS – This picture was taken at last year’s graduation. When I showed it to my, then, 4 year old he said “You are dressed like a wizard mummy. Are you a wizard?’. And I replied that I am a teacher. When he heard this, he opened his eyes really wide and exclaimed ‘You are a wizards’ teacher?! Wow. You are so cool, mummy’. I smiled and neither confirmed nor denied it 😉