How scholarships transform lives III – Georgia Spencer-Rowland

Margaret F K Fleming graduated from St Andrews with an MA in French in 1933, and a Bursary was established in her name in 2010 for students of French to enable them to study in France. Georgia Spencer-Rowland received the Bursary in 2015, and she describes here the wonderful opportunities it gave her.

Thanks to the Margaret F K Fleming Bursary, I was lucky enough to spend six months in Paris studying International Relations and Humanities at Sciences Po University.  I lived in the heart of the 2ème arrondissement from August to January and my time in the city was simply wonderful: I made friends for life, was challenged academically and seized every opportunity both inside and outside of the university environment.

My first day at the Embassy.jpg

My first day at the Embassy

I attended the University’s invaluable week-long Welcome Programme. Here we learned a completely new approach to research, presentation and in-depth data analysis and critique, without which I would have been lost once term began. My classes and professors were extraordinary and I feel privileged to have been included in what was, to date, the most intellectually stimulating environment I had witnessed outside of St Andrews.

I studied a range of subjects – all in French – from Terrorism and Asymmetric Warfare, to Ethics, French Philosophy and the Literary Culture of the Middle East.  Unfortunately, my study of terrorism changed from the abstract to a real-life experience after the attacks on the city that November. However, well-rehearsed security measures and the positive attitude of professors and students meant that evacuations and false alarms did not impede our learning, nor our desire to attend classes.

Outside the Sciences Po main building on my last day.jpg

Outside the Sciences Po main building on my last day

Classes not only developed my language skills, but also influenced my choice of International Relations modules on return to St Andrews: studying an introductory course to Ethics at Sciences Po led me to take the Ethics and the Use of Force module in Senior Honours. I remain in touch with my professors from Sciences Po, all of whom have kindly written references for when I apply for a Masters course at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA).

Outside the classroom, I took advantage of the unparalleled cultural opportunities on offer around Paris by visiting museums, art exhibitions, jazz shows and countless other unforgettable activities. The Bursary also enabled me to enjoy university sports classes, including swimming and weekly pilates classes. This provided a much-needed break from the library and allowed me to meet other students, who introduced me to debating and to foreign affairs and film societies – all of which I subsequently joined.

View from Le Ponte des Artes taken on the walk to my first classes on my 21st birthday.jpg

View from Le Ponte des Artes taken on the walk to my first classes on my 21st birthday

Alongside my studies, I managed to get a job in the British Embassy in Paris.  Having originally applied for diplomatic work experience, I was then offered and accepted a job as a server and interpreter.  It was incredible to go straight from lectures to serve at state functions where guest lecturers from Sciences Po would often be dining. The extra travel costs associated with this were covered by the Bursary, meaning that neither my academic nor social time in Paris were compromised.

 

I cannot thank the donors of the Margaret F K Fleming Bursary enough for the astounding opportunities it afforded me. Not only was I able to engage fully in the academic rigours of such an incredible institution, but the analytical and critical research skills that I learnt there will serve me for the rest of my academic life. I was able to participate fully in all aspects of student life, from sports to the arts, all of which would have been financially inaccessible without the assistance of the Bursary.

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If you would like to know more about the range of scholarships and bursaries available at St Andrews, you can find out at: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/fees-and-funding/scholarships/ 
You can support future generations of students to fulfil their potential by giving to one of our scholarship programmes at: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/development/support/other-fundraising-projects/scholarships/ 

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To Graduation and Beyond

As Graduation Week 2018 comes to a close and the University sends over 2000 graduating students out into the world, it seems like the perfect time to reflect upon the week’s events. From prestigious speakers and ceremonies to Balls, Bops and Garden Parties, Graduation Week 2018 was not to be missed. Development Summer Intern, Rosie Catcheside, takes us through the week from her perspective.

This year saw our largest ever graduating class cross the stage at eight ceremonies over four days. The Scottish weather was on the new graduates’ side and it was great to see the town sunny and bustling with student life again. The first graduation day was a perfect start to the week, with a large graduating class including students of English, Mathematics, Theology and Divinity.

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One aspect of St Andrews graduations which parents and students particularly enjoy is the tradition. Ceremonies take place in Younger Hall, where graduates cross the stage and are capped by the Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor before being handed their degree certificate. After the ceremonies, they join the academic procession along North Street and into the Quad. As a spectator, it is easy to imagine the generations of students who have taken part in these traditions over the years.

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As an intern with the Annual Giving team in Development, my main role in Graduation Week was helping at the Garden Parties. I had never attended these events before and was thoroughly impressed by what I saw, from the marquees to the food (mini fudge doughnuts!), drinks and atmosphere. Graduates, meanwhile, enjoyed the opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate their success.

The most enjoyable aspect of the week for me was the opportunity to chat with students and their families. Students pinned luggage tags on our maps to show where they were going after graduation, and this proved that St Andrews’ graduates are both international and adventurous. With locations ranging from London, to New York, to Hong Kong, South Africa and even Antarctica, the world really does need to prepare itself because there is nowhere that St Andrews graduates aren’t excited to go.

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It was also exciting to meet Family Programme Members and graduates at the Parent Cocktail Receptions at MUSA. With MUSA preparing to close for its extension and refurbishment, the cocktail parties gave parents and donors the opportunity to look around the museum and mingle with fellow parents, the Principal, and other University staff. The impact of donations to the University cannot be overstated, and it was great to chat about projects in the pipeline, and to thank donors for their impact.

Whilst parents particularly enjoyed these more ceremonious aspects, many graduates were especially excited for the final celebrations of Grad Bop and Grad Ball. The Bop included a glass of prosecco on entry and songs from the last four years and gave our newest alumni the chance to let their hair down on a St Andrews night out for the final time.

The big event, however, was the Graduation and Summer Ball on Saturday night. From the illuminated St Salvator’s Quad to the marquees on Lower College Lawn, the ball was set up in true St Andrews style, combining elegance with great fun. Graduates were dressed to impress and ready for a wonderful evening, and a fantastic final St Andrews’ memory.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Graduation Week from the inside this year. As a member of the Development team I was able to appreciate how much work goes into graduation, and as a student watching friends graduate I was also able to see how much the week meant to new alumni and their families. Now our 2018 graduates venture outside of the Bubble and join almost 60,000 fellow alumni all over the globe, and I am confident that they will continue to do St Andrews proud, wherever their adventures take them next.

You can see more photos and videos from Graduation 2018 on the University’s Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/uniofsta/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/uniofstandrews/) pages and more stories from the week on the Alumni Network Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/USTAAlumni/)