Summer 2018 graduation kicks off

The stage is set, the hall decorated, robes delivered and degree certificates printed – graduation for Summer 2018 is ready to go!

Months of preparation by University staff have gone into organising a week of graduation ceremonies that provides an unforgettable experience for our graduands and celebrates their incredible hard work and academic achievements.

The first of our graduands celebrated the culmination of their studies at De Montfort Hall today, and we also heard some inspiring words from a familiar face from television and a familiar voice from radio.

Sandi Toksvig left our graduands with a quote attributed to Beethoven: "Grab life by the throat." She received an honorary Doctor of Letters during our morning ceremony. Most recently, Toksvig has been the host of the BBC television quiz show QI and the co-presenter of The Great British Bake Off alongside Noel Fielding.

It was at Girton College, Cambridge, where Sandi began her comedy career, writing and performing in the first all-woman show at the Footlights (Cambridge University’s amateur dramatics club).

Her television debut was presenting the children’s series No. 73 (1982-1986) and Toksvig then went on to do other children’s television including The Saturday Starship, Motormouth and her own show Toksvig. She is joint founder of the Women’s Equality Party (established in March 2015).

She is also writing the first production from Leicester’s newly re-opened Haymarket Theatre. Co-written with her sister Jenifer Toksvig, Treasure Island is a new version of the quintessential adventure story by Robert Louis Stevenson that you can expect to see premiered at Christmas.

Professor Fiona Stafford received an honorary Doctor of Letters during our afternoon ceremony. She began her higher education at the University of Leicester, receiving a Bachelor of Arts first class honours degree in English Language and Literature. Her love of English studies led her to Oxford University for postgraduate study and she is now a Tutorial Fellow there.

Stafford’s research interests include Ossian, Austen, Burns, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, the Shelleys, Byron, Heaney, Carson, literature of the Romantic period, the literature of place, nature writing (old and new), Scottish poetry after 1700, dialogues between English, Irish and Scottish literature, literature and the visual arts, and contemporary poetry.

Her most recent book, the acclaimed The Long, Long Life of Trees (2016), is a tribute to the diversity of trees in 17 chapters – each of which is dedicated to a common British tree – drawing on material from fields including folklore, natural science, literature, cultural history, European art, ancient mythology and modern medicine to illuminate each tree’s central place in western civilisation.

Stafford has considerable experience of working with media and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio.

All of our graduands should be proud of the work and effort they have put into their studies, and today we learned about a few of the successes of our graduands while studying at Leicester. Eleanor Ferguson (History) is a winner of the TAB 100 and was the first non-law student of the Pro Bono Society's Litigants in Person project, while David Hall’s (History) childhood collection of Korean stamps led to him achieving a fantastic grade in his dissertation.

And we saw the first of three performances of the Pankhurst Anthem, by women of the University Chamber Choir and Chorus. The Anthem’s composer Lucy Pankhurst wrote the choral work with text by Helen Pankhurst based on words written by her great-grandmother Emmeline Pankhurst.

If you're graduating this week, you'll be able to share the special moment when you cross the stage. Look out for an email from our Alumni Engagement Team which will contain a video clip of the moment you graduate. And remember to post your photos to #LeicesterGrad18!