20 July 2022 | Bracknell, UK [Roland Dan]
In 2021, Newbold hosted a virtual graduation ceremony for the classes of 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. With the return to physical graduation ceremonies at universities across the United Kingdom, Newbold invited graduates of 2020 and 2021 to put on graduation robes to celebrate their achievements alongside the graduating class of 2022 on 10 July.
Serena Santona, Academic Registrar, began the ceremony by praising the graduates for their academic success. She described it as “the culmination of many years of dedication and hard work” throughout two years of “exceptional uncertainty and challenges” due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “A virtual awards ceremony is not as exciting as being here together properly celebrating your academic achievements,” said Ms Santona. “So, it is an honour to see those who graduated in 2020 and 2021, even though not everyone could attend. We wanted to see everyone in person and watch them march to the platform to be congratulated.”
“This is the day to commemorate the completion of your study,” said Dr Stephen Currow, Principal at Newbold. “The last academic year was a year to recover from the pandemic. While continuing to deliver our academic programmes in a hybrid format, it is great to welcome students onto the campus. So, it is good to see everyone in person. We look forward to student numbers increasing in the next academic year.”
In her address to the graduating students, Lorraine MacDonald, Education Director for the British Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, spoke about leadership, providing examples from the life of Jesus. She warned the future leaders that people would expect them to be “on-call 24 hours, seven days a week”. Quoting American author Brené Brown, Ms MacDonald said, “We live in a culture that rewards exhaustion as a status symbol and connects productivity to self-worth.” She advised her listeners to follow the leadership habits practised by Jesus. In her conclusion, she said, “As you embark on this world of shepherding, whether in business or the ministry of the gospel, keep looking to the ‘Great Shepherd’ [Jesus] to guide you.”
As the ceremony drew to a close, Jesse Samuel, representing the 2022 graduates, said they were fortunate to fulfil their classes online in spite of the pandemic. “Today is a signifier that despite the challenges, God is still in the midst of our journey,” said Mr Samuel, and continued, “In my former school, we had a saying, ‘Enter to learn and depart to serve.’” He charged his student colleagues to “serve with humility, grace and the power God has given us”.
“Graduating in person made me feel like I had accomplished something. I feel like all my hard work has been rewarded,” said 2021 Biblical and Pastoral Studies graduate Fitzroy Morris, following the ceremony. “This time around was a ‘wow moment’, being able to graduate with my family around me. It’s been a family journey because my family, friends, and lecturers encouraged me through my struggles, challenges and moments when I almost felt like giving up. Now, I’m inspired to continue with my master’s studies.”
[Photos: Asun Olivan / CC BY 4.0]