Honorary graduates including mental health campaigner Ruby Wax, newsreader Clive Myrie, and Chair of Port Vale Football Club Carol Shanahan were among a series of special guests who contributed to Staffordshire University’s virtual celebration for the ‘Class of 2020’.
Graduates, whose 2020 awards ceremonies were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were invited to step into a virtual event space to be congratulated on their achievements by Professor Liz Barnes CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Staffordshire University, as well as staff and alumni from across the institution.
Students were able to navigate their way around the virtual event platform to reunite with fellow graduates from their individual Schools, with the option of breaking away to chat to others in familiar Students’ Union venues such as Squeeze Box and the LRV.
Professor Barnes said: “Our online celebration was not intended as a replacement for our awards ceremonies, which will take place once it is safe for us to gather, but we wanted to find a way to congratulate our graduating class on their tremendous achievements – especially given the fact they have completed their awards despite all the challenges posed by a global pandemic.
We are delighted that so many high-profile honorary graduates were able to share messages of congratulations and encouragement, and we hope the sheer volume of supportive videos – coupled with the opportunity to reunite with friends, classmates and lecturers – will inspire our Class of 2020 as they embark on the next chapters in their lives.”
Entertainer and author Ruby Wax, whose latest book And Now for the Good News… To the Future with Love, is published this week, congratulated graduates and urged them to take their next steps mindfully.
She said: “It strikes me that as new graduates of Staffordshire University, you can go forth and be those green shoots – the ones who show what can be done and how to do it in a way that impacts all our futures. But I also want to stress the importance of community and the feeling that, wherever you are and wherever you go, someone has your back. I believe this is everything your Connected University stands for.”
The programme also included musical entertainment from University Chaplain Mick Williams, better known as ‘Mick the Vic’, who wrote a special song dedicated to the Class of 2020. Topping off the celebration event was a live set by the Students’ Union’s DJ Dom, who took requests from an online audience of graduates nostalgic about their University experience.
In addition to attending the online event, all graduating students were invited to claim a specially commissioned Class of 2020 hoodie, many of which were on display during the celebration.
Students due to graduate this autumn, whose ceremonies have also been postponed until further notice, will be invited to attend a second Class of 2020 celebration event in November 2020.