filmstripgrad18Last week Brasenose College held our annual graduation event, where undergraduates and post-graduates who have recently completed their courses return to Brasenose to celebrate the end of their studies, along with their families. This year the celebration was particularly well-deserved as the College enjoyed record results for our undergraduate final examinations, with 44 of our 106 graduates achieving a first-class degrees.

The celebration began on a cloudy but pleasant morning, when students and guests gathered in the College, and then walked across Radcliffe Square to the Sheldonian Theatre, a sumptuous building designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The theatre is the ceremonial heart of Oxford, and graduating students often have a sense of nostalgia about the location, as it is where they will have “matriculated” several years ago. Matriculation is a similar celebration to graduation, only at the beginning of academic courses, where students are formally admitted to the University of Oxford.

The graduation ceremony itself has retained the same essential features from when degrees were first awarded in Oxford 800 years ago or more. Students are lead to the Sheldonian by the College Deans of Degrees, which in Brasenose’s case is Professor Richard Cooper, an emeritus tutor in French. Once inside, each student is presented to the Vice-Chancellor and Proctors in groups before leaving the theatre briefly to put on special gowns that signify their graduation, then re-entering to rapturous applause.

Following completion of formal proceedings, Brasenose students returned to the College for a reception, with parents and other relatives joining them. A marquee, a jazz band, canapés and drinks were all provided, and what’s more, the predicted rain and thunderstorms held off long enough for the event to run unencumbered by inclement weather.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was when our Principal, John Bowers, delivered a very well received speech, where he congratulated students on their stunning success and development. He also included some friendly advice about the future, which he called Principal’s Principles – where he reminded students to remain true to themselves; “be yourselves, everyone else is already taken” as he put it. Brasenose graduates remain members of College for life, and we look forward to our recent alumni visiting us again for reunions (which we call “gaudies”) and staying in touch in other ways.

Experimental Psychologist graduate Yasemin Açıkgöz commented “I can't imagine having a better time at Oxford than I have as a Brasenose student. I feel so lucky to have met so many like-minded people and it really is like being part of a big family. The thing I'll miss the most is sometimes taking 20 minutes to get across College because of stopping to chat to everyone I walked past!". Yasemin (pictured top), from Heanor Gate Science College near Derby, will be staying in Oxford next year as the co-ordinator of Jacari, a student charity providing home tutoring for disadvantaged children aged 6-16 who don’t speak English as their first language, and also mothers who need English language support.

Although remaining students, tutors and staff are always sad to see our final students leave, there is no time for standing still in a college that is constantly renewing itself. During July Brasenose has been hosting the University of Oxford UNIQ summer schools, where 100s of Year 12s state school students stayed in College for free to take part. We hope that many of these students will form part of the College’s future. In just over a month we will be welcoming prospective applicants during our September 14th undergraduate Open Days, the final open days of the year, following the summer dates in late June. Then, in early October our new students will be arriving, just beginning their time at Brasenose College, and attending their matriculation ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre during freshers week.