Above and beyond …

Each year two different students are recognised for going above and beyond the call of duty – one for what they’ve achieved as an Evening Degree student and the other for helping their fellow students.

We asked Zoë Garvie (winner of the Fife Council Provost’s Prize for the Most Outstanding Evening Degree Student 2017) and Emily Bruton (winner of the Frotscher Medal for Helping Hands for Excellence in Supporting Students 2017) to tell us about what inspired and motivated them.

Blog II Image1

Zoë Garvie

“I started the evening degree in 2010 as a way of testing my academic ability while continuing to work. I’d gained reasonable grades at school but unlike my friends, I didn’t apply to university because I was worried about debt. But I always hankered to learn, and took courses in everything from hypnosis to ballroom dancing.

“It was after I met my husband that I decided to go to university. However, I wanted to find out if it was going to agree with me before I gave up work full-time. The University of St Andrews Evening Degree was the perfect way to test the water.

“It’s been seven years since that first evening and during that time life has changed considerably for me, with one baby boy born in 2012 and another in 2014 – perfectly timed for the summer break! My full-time academic ambitions changed to full-time mum responsibilities but, despite practically no sleep, I still loved my studies.

“I was seduced to study at St Andrews by the Biology modules but there was not a subject or lecturer that didn’t thrill me – from IT to Geography and Geology, and from Physics and Astronomy to Psychology. I even dabbled in Anthropology and Mediaeval Scottish History!

“I have to mention Dr Rona Ramsay. She was a real mentor to me during my level 3 Biology modules and encouraged me to try her Biochemistry bootcamp. I had never before left my children during the day and when she sent me a copy of the module I didn’t understand a word of it. Now the language seems straightforward but I remember vividly when it was unintelligible and terrifying to me. My proudest moment was when I passed that module with distinction.

“It has been an absolute privilege to have come to St Andrews. The calibre and enthusiasm of the teaching is astonishing and my fellow students have been a pleasure and inspiration to meet. There are so many of us who juggle commitments and stay up all hours to fit in the time for assessments, so it is a real honour to be recognised for the effort I’ve put in.”

Zoë was awarded the Prize (which includes £100) in recognition of her academic achievements across all modules taken as part of her BSc General Science Degree. She received the Prize at the Lifelong Learning Graduation Reception on 23 June 2017.

Blog II Image2

Emily (centre) with the Proctor, Professor Lorna Milne, and panel members Ailsa Ritchie (Deputy Director of Student Services) and Rev. Dr Donald MacEwan. Also pictured are friends Naomi Boon (far left), Cameron Schoettle (far right) and nominator Harry Gunning (back right) 

Emily Bruton

“From the beginning of my time at St Andrews, I have met and tried to help students who didn’t find the transition to university life easy, or who found pre-existing difficulties harder to cope with without the familiarity of home and the support of family. This led to me being nicknamed ‘Mumma Melville’ in the halls of residence where I had earned a reputation for offering support and for giving good hugs (or so I am told).

“I suggested to the Senior Student at the time that there should be an official ‘Mumma Melville’ position in all halls of residence. Andrew Melville Hall was the first to implement this suggestion and I was voted in as Hall Welfare Rep on the Hall executive committee. This increased to two Welfare Reps the following year.

“The main role of the Welfare Rep is to act as a first point of contact for students who are struggling, and to act as a bridge between the Hall and the many services provided by the University. We have tried to do this by holding tea and cake events, for example, to raise awareness of student welfare groups such as Student Minds and Populus, and to encourage students to feel as if they matter to the University.

“As someone who has seen the early hours of the morning in many different – and sometimes overwhelming – circumstances while trying to help others, the role of Welfare Rep is therefore close to my heart.

“In a sense, the Award has given me encouragement and has shown me that the help I have given does matter – even if at the time I felt frustrated at not being able to do more, or to do better. It is symbolic of the importance of kindness and generosity and is a keen reminder of the people I have helped in the past, the people I hope to help in the future and the many wonderful people who have helped me when I needed it.”

A little consideration, a little thought for others makes all the difference.
                                                                                                         – A A Milne

Emily was awarded the Frotscher Medal by the Proctor, Professor Lorna Milne at a ceremony on 16 May 2017.


First Day in Development

As part of the University’s summer internships programme, fourth year Physics student Francis Newman has just begun a six-week internship with the Alumni Relations team in the Development Office.

The Development Office, tucked away on North Street between the Barron Theatre and the Library, is not only a beautiful and spacious building in which to work – particularly on a summer’s day, with the sun streaming through the windows – but is populated by an exceptionally friendly team of people who are responsible for engaging with the many thousands of former students who have passed through the University over time. They work not only to keep these alumni engaged with the institution, and to organise the University’s philanthropic fundraising efforts around the world, but also to organise reunions, let alumni share their news, and to put old friends back in touch with each other.

My first impressions have been extremely positive – within a few hours of arriving in the building I already feel like a valued member of the team, and I’m looking forward to getting started on various projects!

On my first morning I discussed my plans for this internship with Phil, my supervisor. I have the opportunity to work on a range of projects that really interest me – and that I think could really benefit both current students and alumni.

What will I be doing? Well, as well as writing posts for this blog (keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment!) I’m hoping to explore new ways to engage current students and societies with the work of this office, so that it’s easier for them to stay in touch with alumni when they need to. I also hope to work on publicizing Saint Connect – a portal run by the Careers Centre which allows alumni to mentor current students as well as to offer jobs and advice – an idea that keeps different generations of students in touch with each other! I also look forward to helping organise the Bejant Receptions for incoming students in the USA.

As any alumni who’ve come to visit in the summer will know, being in St Andrews at this time of year shows a very different side of the town from the term-time cycle of lectures, labs, rehearsals and social functions that I’ve grown accustomed to – but both experiences are equally enjoyable, enriching and rewarding!

Mermaids at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe

In what is now a well-established tradition, several groups of St Andrews students will be heading to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. With original student writing featuring more predominantly than ever before, there are no rights-required plays being performed. Summer intern 3rd year student Caroline McWilliams tells us more.

Atlas 2016.jpg

Atlas, 2016 production

Mermaids Performing Arts Fund is funding five plays, all of which are student-written. Atlas by the Brothers Liebmiller (Class of 2017) tells the story of Issac Newton, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and Edmund Halley and a wager that changed the world of science forever. After an acclaimed run in St Andrews in 2016, this humorous play is transferring to theSpace on North Bridge (Venue 36) under the direction of Alexander Gillespie (Class of 2017).

Commons written by Elliot Douglas (Class of 2019) tells the story of the romance between an MP and the rent boy he employs.  Highly original, thought-provoking and at times hilarious, this play will also be performed at theSpace on North Bridge (Venue 36).

Pistorius 2016.jpg

Pistorius: A Shakespearean Tragedy, 2016 production

After a sell-out, highly-acclaimed performance in St Andrews in Spring 2016 as part of the Shakespeare Festival, Pistorius: A Shakespearean Tragedy, written by Issac Mayne (Class of 2017) is the story of the trial of Oscar Pistorius written in iambic pentameter. This play will be performed at Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236).

Sonder Theatre in collaboration with Mermaids presents Rock and Hunt, written by MLitt Creative Writing student Helena Jacques-Morton (MA 2016). Telling the story of six interwoven characters, this play explores the themes of love, sex, alcoholism, life and death. It will be performed at Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29).

Polaris 2017.jpg

Polaris, 2017 production

Student writer and poet Hannah Raymond-Cox (Class of 2017) presents her one woman show Polaris. She tells the story of one woman’s search for community in the face of chaos. This show is part of PBH’s Free Fringe and will be performed at 52 Canoes (Grassmarket) (Venue 366).

Blind Mirth 2016.jpg

Blind Mirth

Also returning to the Fringe is Blind Mirth performing both their short and long form games. With improvised comedy anything could happen and nothing can be predicted. Described as “brilliantly random” by the EdFringeReview.com, this show will be performed at theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39).

Also heading to the Fringe are some of St Andrews most beloved a cappella groups including The Other Guys, The Belles & Beaus, The Accidentals and The Alleycats. With the popularity of a cappella, you are advised to buy your tickets early.

The Other Guys 2017.jpg

The Other Guys, 2017

Alumni at the Fringe

St Andrews and Blind Mirth alumna Charlie V. Martin will be making her solo comedy debut with “Dante’s History of the Banished“.
Improv, stand-up and puppets all feature in this show about history and literature’s most famous exiles.
(It also wins the best use of a red gown post-graduation!) See a clip on Youtube


Dante’s History of the Banished

Dr. Xela Batchelder (class of 1996) is doing 2 events at the Fringe.
One is a talk, “The Edinburgh Fringe as a Classroom,” which is being held at C Venues C Royale, (Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22 George Street) on August 9th at 10.00 AM.
The other is the University Professors at the Fringe Networking Event at Summerhall on August 16th at 10:30 AM.
You can find Xela at Fringe University on Facebook.


Fringe University


Last but certainly not least, Dr Chris Hooley, a senior lecturer in theoretical condensed matter physics at the University, is performing a one-man monologue – Scientist/Landlady/Axe:

In these politically febrile times, one question is on everybody’s lips:

Did Dostoyevsky know something about quantum mechanics that we don’t? 

You’ve surely been to talks about this before; but have you been to one given by a gay Esperanto-speaking theoretical physicist? No? Well, what are you waiting for?

Details of the show are on Facebook.

From seventeenth-century scientists to contemporary politics, the St Andrews Fringe programme truly has something to offer everyone and we hope that you will enjoy all that the students have to offer this summer. You can keep up-to-date with the shows over their social media pages or contact any of the groups via the email addresses below.


Mermaids Fringe email: mermaidsfringe@st-andrews.ac.uk

A cappella Society email: ac-soc@st-andrews.ac.uk

Blind Mirth email: blindmirth@gmail.com

Ticketing web addresses

Atlas:                     https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22atlas%22

Blind Mirth:        https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/blind-mirth

Commons:          https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=commons

Dante’s History of the Banished:  Dante’s History of the Banished

Fringe as a Classroom: Edinburgh Fringe as a Classroom

Pistorius:             https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=pistorius

Polaris:                 https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=polaris

Rock and Hunt: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/rock-and-hunt

University Professors: University Professors at the Fringe (Networking Event)

Scientist/Landlady/Axe: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/scientist-landlady-axe-by-dr-chris-hooley-tickets-36481731842?aff=efbevent

A cappella web addresses will be available soon.