Third-year student Charlotte Andrew raises a glass to the Class of 2015 as we send them on their way into the ‘big wide world’. Charlotte is currently undertaking a 6-week internship with the Alumni Relations and Annual Giving teams in the Development Office, and was recently elected to be the Students’ Association’s first ever Association Alumni Officer for 2015-16.
It’s an odd feeling to know that I’ll be here this summer to watch my friends graduate. It’s strange enough to know that I will be graduating myself this time next year, especially given that this means I and many others will be beginning the dreaded search for a graduate job in the months to come. As much as this terrifies virtually all incoming final year students at St Andrews, it is likely felt a hundred times over by those actually leaving this year. Whether the Class of 2015 have jobs lined up, a gap year to look forward to, or are happy to have no immediate plans, this summer will mark the beginning of a whole new chapter of their lives.
But that is a sentiment expressed thousands of times at graduations around the world and although that makes it no less true, I’d like to say something that is less often discussed. For many of those being left behind in St Andrews, who still have years of leaving the Library at 2am, of enjoying the ridiculousness of Raisin Weekend and being woken up by seagulls in the early hours to look forward to, those graduating this year have had a profound effect on our university experience. The unique networks made across year groups, academic departments, within societies and halls yield an extraordinarily cohesive student bond that makes the parting at graduation all the more bittersweet.
“It’s an odd feeling to know that I’ll be here this summer to watch my friends graduate”
As happy and proud of our friends as we are for achieving their goal (or for deciding, after all, that a 2.1 will be just fine), saying goodbye will always be difficult. For many, the international nature of the University means it’s unlikely they will see some of their friends again in person. Saying goodbye to people who have shaped you during some of your most formative and experimental years, who have given advice, helped you gain confidence, improved your skills outside of academia and encouraged you to make the most unlikely of friendships can prove to be a hard task for many.
For the majority it’s not really goodbye though. A key asset of St Andrews is the number of graduates that return to visit friends or help out with their old societies, or simply keep in touch for years to come. As much as we remaining students feel the loss of our friends and role-models, watching their successes and mistakes in the wider world only serves to continue the trend of guidance begun at University.
So to all those leaving St Andrews, as usual, good luck – but additionally, thank you.
We’ll be following your progress with interest!