“Go out into the world and do good.”
The closing words from the outgoing Vice Principal and Head of College of the The Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, Professor Michael Greaves, during yesterday afternoon’s graduation ceremony at the King’s College campus.
Those words have stuck with me since almost 24 hours ago and were the icing on the cake of my reflections about the last few years of my own life since I graduated at the neighbouring Robert Gordon University under four years ago. I have to honestly say that it has been a pretty lonely and difficult period in my life since departing the Granite City. My education feels like it has only properly commenced since I received my certificate and it has only really occurred to me how scary my post-university experience has been in the ever volatile world that we live in.
Why do I say this? Because when I witnessed every graduate walk up onto the stage to the sound of loud cheers and overwhelming jubilation, it heartened me how much I truly realise how far I’ve come despite the turbulent ride – I plead guilty to not taking enough time to shower myself with the satisfying sense of self-achievement. Not giving enough credit to myself is not a sign of modesty, but rather, it is demonising. Completing a university degree is as difficult as swimming the English Channel or climbing Ben Nevis and whilst many people appreciate that, some are too quick to play the snobbery card and ridicule the long struggle students encounter. Because I dropped a year and had to re-sit an exam immediately before completing my degree (meaning I missed the summer graduation) it partly soured the end of my time at university. Yet when I was in Aberdeen yesterday, nostalgia made me appreciate that I had many enjoyable experiences at university and made a good few friends in the process.
But I also felt for those successful men and women at the same time – whilst the intentions will undoubtedly be for a successful and rewarding career, their journey to achieving those positive objectives will certainly not be a smooth ride. In an era where austerity remains dominant and where pressures on the National Health Service remain constantly high, their real education will really only commence once they settle into their first job. Being a healthcare professional has it’s rewards, but also it’s challenges – challenges that are proving to be more and more major. And it’s only fair to say that life in your 20’s, whilst it can be exciting, isn’t exactly the most secure and settled. This is a time in someone’s life where they have to define themselves and define their real position and purpose on the Earth.
The loud cheering and celebration that the new graduates created in the Elphinstone Hall during the ceremony was admirable – they lived the moment and made it special (you can see a clip of Barah graduating yesterday by clicking here). And they made it constant which was even better. And, in conclusion, these talented people, whilst they will have many difficulties to encounter can yet bring good into the world, make this planet a better place to live in and become truly special people.
Congratulations and best wishes to all the successful graduates!