One of the most memorable parts of my graduation was the Graduation chapel service early in the day immediately before the ceremony. It was stated very clearly that our education was not just for us and our lives. Education was for everyone, not in that everyone has the opportunity because really not everyone in this world does have that advantage. With our education, our blessing, it was our responsibility to do good, to continue the great commission, to act as Jesus told us. With our education we had a duty to do good, care for the poor, and so much more.
Once at the ceremony, properly gowned and sat in order, I realised that my line were the first students up. I don’t mean the first that day, I mean first that year. This meant that we actually didn’t really know what came next, what was the protocol, and there was no-one to watch first. We were scared to trip, but stood up, walked to the side of the stage, walked to the centre when my name was called, and in seconds it was done. It rained that day which meant my photograph had some strange hair, and I missed the celebratory garden party. It was a bit of an anti-climax. But so goes much of life: over in seconds but they are the seconds we remember. We will remember them for the rest of our lives.
The year since, of working and feeling a little like I was on a gap year, the first year of my marriage, a year of changing as a person and growing up. This was a year of stepping out the boat, my husband and I deciding our future together, deciding what’s important. I have a feeling there are some graduates who will have a year a little like this and I wish them the best.
The truth is that your degree may not be the thing that defines the time you have after university – it wasn’t for me, and your 2:1 may not mean that much to the people you want it to. But your degree, your time, and your classification does mean something: it means you learnt, and allowed yourself to learn, you met people who changed you. Believe me, you will remember the people.
I do believe your degree is meant to help others, but also if your degree only assists you it’s not doing as much as it could. You could be one in a long line of St Andrews graduates, you could be the first person to get a degree in your entire family so far, either way it’s a privilege. Your learning will affect others whether you mean to or not. Try to stay away from the arrogance of it, try to stay humble. Try to continue learning and use the skills to learn from others. Share your experiences, gather other peoples. There is so much more to learn. Your degree is only the beginning. So whatever your choice, do good because you could do SO MUCH. You are lucky to be graduating, so my only expectation of you now is to live up to it.
and enjoy it! Congratulations!