Graduation Address: Professor Laura Moretti, School of Art History

Graduation Office
Friday 14 June 2024

Friday 14 June 2024 – morning ceremony

Vice-Chancellor, special guests, colleagues, and graduates…

We are here to celebrate a remarkable achievement. The culmination of years of tireless study, late nights fuelled by caffeine and curiosity, and steady dedication to a noble profession. Each one of you embarked on a challenging journey, driven by a passion for knowledge and a profound empathy for humanity. Along the way, you have not only acquired knowledge, but also honed your critical thinking, empathy, and resilience.

Today your journey reaches a significant milestone. This is a moment to reflect on the legacy you inherit and the profound responsibility you carry. Here, at the oldest university in Scotland, countless minds have faced the mysteries of life and health. Think back to your predecessors who walked these very paths – from the early anatomists dissecting under flickering candlelight to the modern researchers pushing the boundaries of medical science.

Today you become a part of that legacy, inheriting the responsibility to push the boundaries of knowledge and ensure the wellbeing of generations to come. You will step into a world tackling complex medical challenges – an ageing population, emerging infectious diseases, and the ever-present struggle for healthcare equity. These challenges are daunting, but you carry with you the exceptional education you received here at St Andrews, which instilled in you a foundation built upon rigorous scientific inquiry, a commitment to ethical practice, and a deep understanding of the human body.

Embrace change. Remember the intellectual curiosity that brought you here. Medicine is a dynamic field. The latest discoveries may be challenged tomorrow. Stay curious, delve into new research, and adapt to the ever-changing landscape. Never stop learning, questioning, and seeking out new avenues to improve patient care. Medicine is, at its core, a human endeavour. It is about trust, thought, and understanding the very human experience of illness. The empathy you have cultivated within these walls will be your most valuable tool. Let compassion guide your interactions, fostering a sense of connection and trust with every patient you encounter in your work, whether it be in person or in the lab.

The road ahead will be challenging. There will be long hours, difficult decisions, and moments of doubt. You will witness disparities, inefficiencies, and challenges. Do not be afraid to be a voice for change. Advocate for patients, promote access to quality care, and work towards a healthcare system that serves everyone. Amidst the challenges, you will find immense satisfaction. You will witness miracles of recovery, forge profound connections with patients, pioneer research that drives your field forward, and be a source of comfort and guidance during some of life’s most vulnerable moments.

St Andrews has equipped you with the knowledge, skills, and values you need to thrive in this worthy profession. There will be moments of doubt, ethical dilemmas to navigate, and the ever-present reality of human mortality.

In those moments, remember the core principles that have been introduced to you within these walls:

  • Compassion: let patients know they are seen, heard, and valued as individuals, not just a collection of symptoms.
  • Integrity: uphold the highest ethical standards in your practice and research; be a voice for patients and a champion for the profession.
  • Humility: never stop learning; embrace new discoveries and advancements in medicine with an open mind.

This journey you embark on today is not a solitary one: you are part of a vast network. Seek out mentors, collaborate with colleagues, and be a source of support for those following in your footsteps. Remember, the strength of the medical community lies in its collaborative spirit and shared values.

This is a momentous occasion to celebrate the path you have forged, but it is also the beginning of a new path. Go forth with confidence and compassion. As you step into your profession, remember the power you hold. You will be a source of comfort during a time of crisis, a beacon of hope in the face of despair, and a guiding light because of advances you make that further the possibility for recovery and healing.

Embrace the privilege of serving others and the profound impact you can make on people’s lives. Remember the legacy of St Andrews, the knowledge you have gained, and the values you have nurtured. May your journey be filled with purpose, passion, and the profound satisfaction of serving those in need.

Congratulations, graduates! The future of medicine shines brighter because of your dedication, your compassion, and your commitment.

Thank you.

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