“Exceptional” St Andrews student awarded Principal’s Medal

Thursday 13 June 2024

An outstanding St Andrews student who graduated this week with the double distinction of being awarded a First-Class Honours degree in English and the prestigious Principal’s Medal, has praised lecturers including the late Professor John Burnside, who made their time at St Andrews “pure joy”.

Lou Selfridge, who grew up just outside Aberdeen, said: “It’s such an honour, and a shock, to be awarded the Principal’s Medal — and I am deeply grateful for this exciting end to the past four years.

“My time at St Andrews has been full of wonderful opportunities, and I owe everything I have done to the wonderful community of friends, family, colleagues, and mentors who have made it all possible. I would have done none of it without them, and so to celebrate together during graduation was an utter joy.

Lou, a Laidlaw Scholar as well as the winner of the School of English Prize for Decolonising Literary Studies and the recipient of Scotland’s Future Series funding for their ‘Poetic Futures’ project, added: “Studying under lecturers and professors whose work I genuinely admire, amongst them the late Professor John Burnside, is something which I will look back on with great fondness for the rest of my life, whilst being surrounded by smart, funny, and caring peers has made it all pure joy.”

Looking to the future, Lou added: “I’ll be spending the next year working as a freelance writer, something I’ve already been doing whilst a student. The first-class education I have received at St Andrews has been a rigorous and pleasurable training in how to write about various forms of literary and visual culture; I feel very privileged that I will be able to go on thinking, talking, and writing about the things I love (and some things I don’t like too, for good measure).”

In a speech before awarding Lou with the Principal’s Medal, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Sally Mapstone said: “Lou’s academic achievements are exceptional. According to their tutors, Lou has been working at a level of sophistication of postgraduate standard and much of their work is already publishable. All of their teachers concur that Lou’s work is unfailingly original, rigorous and exciting, and they have learned from Lou at least as much as they have taught them.”

Professor Mapstone added: “Lou’s commitment to academic excellence and high levels of achievement are matched by their involvement in School, University, town, LGBTQ+, and poetry communities.”

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