Forever St Andrews.

Will Lord, a Class of 2014 graduate now studying in America as a result of securing the Thouron Award, gives his thoughts on the impact of a St Andrews education.

Will pic

After graduating in 2014, I have been studying for a Masters in World History at the University of Pennsylvania. It has been an incredible year. At the same time, I have never forgotten the place that made it all possible. This year I have had the opportunity to delve into the archives of the Library of Congress, take speechwriting classes, knock on doors for a gubernatorial election and explore the exciting city of Philadelphia.

Looking back, I come to appreciate the world-class education I received at St Andrews more and more. I’d assumed most students I’d meet this year would not have heard of our eccentric little university off the coast of Scotland. Yet time and again, I was met with raised eyebrows and impressed expressions when I said I went there; St Andrews’ reputation travels very far indeed. Graduate school in the US is not an easy ride and is very much treated as a full-time job. I have to admit the expectations were a little daunting at first, especially with so many classmates coming from other Ivies. But it turned out a St Andrews education is no less formidable than a Princeton or Yale one.

In terms of advice for students, I know for most of you study means knocking off essays, but don’t forget you are at a renowned seat of learning. At the risk of sounding like a frustrated professor, I would say there is more to your academics than grinding through and doing the minimum required. Obviously you don’t have to be the next Nobel Prize winner in your subject, but do take some time to ask questions of your tutors, find little niches of your subject you enjoy and really throw yourself into them. You will have few better opportunities to enrich your understanding of a complex world.

Having left undergraduate study, I also realise you never quite have the same freedom to do extracurriculars and explore your passions. You are privileged to go to a place with so many great student societies, so get stuck in! Personally, I’m fairly sure I’ll never act on stage or preside over debates on a wooden throne draped in a blue and silver gown again, but I am certainly glad I had the chance to at St Andrews. Go the extra mile and try something new. At the very least, you will have good anecdotes for dinner parties.

I do of course miss having so many close friends in one place, but I do my best to keep in touch and know I will see them again. There is something comforting about knowing that the friends you make, the memories you share and the education you receive do not disappear. I am now certain that wherever life goes, there is a red-gowned, slightly curious part of me that will forever be St Andrews.

Advertisements

Alaska to Argentina: Cycling the Pan-American Highway

Danny Beech and Chris Lally are attempting to SMASH the World Record for the fastest time to cycle the Pan-American Highway, aiming to beat the record or 125 days by a full 25 days! Danny, a 22 year-old Medical student, and Chris, a 21 year-old Physics student, are both from the north of England and have recently completed their degrees at St Andrews. To help them achieve this ambitious goal, they are asking members of the St Andrews community for their support throughout their journey.

Pan-American Highway ImageWith support from the University of St Andrews and The R&A, they are attempting to break the World Record for the fastest time to cycle from the top of Alaska to the bottom of Argentina – the 22,690km Pan-American Highway. This means they expect to cycle a staggering 225–250km a day. The world record attempt is also partially funded by the Alex Richardson Award; Alex was a St Andrews student who tragically died of a brain injury in 2009.

Danny and Chris are desperately in need of places where they can send and store parcels containing new tyres and other replacement bike parts. Would you be willing to help? A list of the towns and cities that mark their progress can be found below; if you are willing to offer somewhere for their packages to be delivered along the journey or would like more information on other ways you can help them out, please email alumni@st-andrews.ac.uk

It might seem a lot to ask from complete strangers, but we all know the St Andrews connection stretches far! A friendly face can be a huge boost, and it would be amazing for the pair to meet some people from the St Andrews community along the way. It would be a real achievement for Danny and Chris, as well as the entire alumni community, if we could help them break a world record through our co-ordinated efforts!

If you’d like to read more about Danny and Chris or their challenge, you can find them online at www.cycletheamericas.co.uk. They’ll be updating their blog throughout their trip, so keep an eye out for it! They’ve also been interviewed by BBC Radio Scotland on 19th June, and featured in the University newspaper, The Saint: http://www.thesaint-online.com/2015/06/taking-the-long-way-st-andrews-graduates-tackle-the-pan-american-highway/

unnamed[5]

Danny (in yellow) and Chris

 

 The route:

Prudhoe Bay (Alaska)

Whitehorse (YT)

Teslin (YT)

Fort Nelson (BC)

Banff (BC)

Great Falls (MT)

Livingstone (MT)

Laramie (WY)

Boulder (CO)

Denver (CO)

Colorado Springs (CO)

Amarillo (TX)

Lubbock (TX)

San Antonio (TX)

Reynosa (Mexico)

Tampico (Mexico)

Poza Rica de Hidalgo (Mexico)

Veracruz (Mexico)

Juchitan de Zaragoza (Mexico)

Tapachula de Cordova y Ordonez (Mexico)

Guatamala City (Guatamala)

San Salvador (El Salvador)

San Jose (Costa Rica)

Panama City (Panama)

Lima (Peru)

Antofagasta (Chile)

Santiago (Chile)

Ushuaia (Argentina)

Inside Graduation: cameras, cake and celebrations.

11659450_10153537428201535_7952987952229554182_n“In her second post on Incomparabubble, Development’s summer intern, Charlotte Andrew, reflects on her experience of Graduation Week and the important lessons she has learned in advance of her own graduation next year…”

I think surreal would be the ideal word of choice to describe my experience of Graduation week; looking on as  the graduates barely seemed able to process that this was the end of their St Andrews life. I think the ceremonies, the garden parties and grad ball all blended into the everyday St Andrews experience because of their uniqueness and sense of occasion. The eccentricity of our little town doesn’t allow for an acceptance of change as final when you’ve already spent four years constantly adapting to the new challenges and quirks it throws your way. Perhaps, though, this is my way of projecting my own reluctance to believe that the Class of 2015 have flown the nest; recent graduates, feel free to correct me!

As a student about to start my final year, I appreciated the opportunity to experience the events from the inside before my own graduation next year.  I now know what I should tell my family is acceptable to wear, how to cope if it rains whilst processing out the ceremony (ignore it and smile, apparently) and which professional photographers I should go to. I never quite appreciated quite how large a variety of black heels could be worn either, so graduation shoes will be well researched! I also wish I’d stayed for graduation ball the previous two years too, it really was the highlight of the week for me and there was a definite step up from the usual St Andrews carousel of balls and black tie events.

As the summer intern for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving in the Development Office, I attended every Garden Party (current students, the cake is great, make sure you head straight for it at your graduation). Some of the new graduates among you reading this may have experienced my very qualified photography skills which have been featured on the Alumni Network Facebook page – only 5 or 6 needed my fingers edited out, so I was happy with my efforts! It was great to see how happy the new graduates, their friends and families were as they wandered around the town in their gowns and hoods.

The time spent in preparation by the Development Office is extensive; all the literature must be designed, printed and organised into packs to then be put into each of the cotton bags handed to every graduate. And then immediately after Graduation week, there was the 2015 Reunion weekend, swiftly followed by Bejant receptions. There seem to be very few quiet moments in the offices here! For a department that is responsible for all University philanthropic fundraising and relations with alumni, relatives of alumni and other benefactors this is hardly surprising. All donations and relationships cultivated with alumni directly impacts and improves teaching, learning and research at the University by promoting active participation, investment and loyalty. Which sounds a little bit corporate for a student blog, with the magic of three employed twice in a sentence, but it does make sense. I know that when I leave university, I will love being told what’s going on at St Andrews and how I can continue to participate.