“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.