Graduation address: Dr Lorna Dargan

Lauren Sykes
Thursday 15 June 2023

Thursday 15 June 2023

Morning ceremony

Vice-Chancellor, special guests, colleagues, and graduates – my most sincere congratulations to you all on this special day. Graduation is one of the highlights of our community’s year, when we come together to celebrate your achievements with colleagues, friends and loved ones, breathe a sigh of relief that you managed to make it across the stage without falling over, and watch you take your next steps out into the world.

I would like to extend our appreciation to our graduates who have worked so hard and contributed so much to the vibrancy of our community, and to the family, friends and supporters who have done so much to keep you going, offer you comfort, and cheer you on from the sidelines – thank you.

It falls on me to say a few words to send you on your way and, not surprisingly as your Director of Careers, I would like to share a few thoughts on career planning.

The very first thing I would like to say is do not panic! I say that as much for our parents and supporters in the room as our graduates. Whether you have a plan in mind, a job secured, or are feeling totally lost, we know from over 600 years of experience that you will be fine.

Your time with us has equipped you beautifully for what comes next – and this is not just about your degree and all the amazing things that you have learnt, but about the experiences you have had with us.

One of my current favourite career theories, planned happenstance, is based in chaos theory, which seems apt for the times in which we live. This theory suggests that success is not about having a rigid plan and sticking to it, but adopting behaviours that help you navigate the unexpected – being curious, proactive, optimistic, flexible, and brave.

These are all qualities that I know you have practised in abundance during your time with us – falling down the rabbit hole of your reading lists to pursue what makes you curious; finding the will to write your essays when you have been exhausted and no page in human history has ever looked more blank; flexing from in-person study to life online and back again; and taking the chance that this small university perched on the edge of the North Sea would give you all that you need to fulfil your ambitions, whatever they may be.

Ask any adult with a career and they will tell you that careers are rarely neat and linear; it would be a dull world indeed if we could see the exact shape of our lives at the outset and feel obliged to simply see it through. I encourage you to be open to changing course, to allow yourself to be challenged, to be surprised, and perhaps to end up far from where you might have expected.

As you sit here amongst your friends and family, I would like to also remind you that your career is just one part of who you are going to be. Your life will be much bigger than what you do to earn a living – you will be family, friends, and spouses, citizens and activists, globe-trotters, creatives, and hobbyists, all of which will be vital and meaningful elements of the lives you build for yourselves, and often the things that will give you the greatest joy.

But for now, for today, take a moment to enjoy your new roles in life – graduates of the University of St Andrews and lifelong members of our global family. We could not be more proud of everything you have accomplished.

Congratulations Class of 2023.

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