Special day as Class of 2020 finally celebrate graduation

Thursday 23 June 2022

More than 1600 Class of 2020 students from around the world gathered at the University of St Andrews this week to celebrate graduation in person. Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies took place daily in The Younger Hall, St Andrews from Tuesday 21 June until Friday 24 June.

Delayed due to the global pandemic, Class of 2020 graduates took part in unique virtual graduation ceremonies with a promise to return to St Andrews to celebrate in person when the easing of Covid restrictions allowed.

This week’s ceremonies also saw eight distinguished individuals from the worlds of science, art, sport and literature honoured.

The first cohort of St Andrews students to have their graduation ceremonies put on hold due to Covid were finally able to celebrate with their friends and families in person today (Tuesday 21 June). 

The Class of 2020 may have had a long wait but for some it was a “dream come true” to be back in historic St Salvator’s Quad. Those attending the afternoon ceremony were also able to share their special moment with Scottish footballing legend, Sir Kenny Dalglish, who was awarded an Honorary Degree.

Graduation was extra special for Dr Shruti Narayanswamy who, after a Home Office battle, finally managed to have visas granted so her parents could travel from India to share her day. Shruti, who is an Entrepreneurial Education Developer in the University’s Centre of Educational Enhancement and Development (CEED), was celebrating being awarded a PhD in Film Studies in 2020.

Friends reunited from all four corners of the globe, Spencer Caminsky, Ali Drabu, Arky Osovtsov, Tyler Monkoff and Illya Nuzbrokh, celebrate meeting up again.

Football legend Sir Kenny Dalglish delighted students and staff in St Salvator’s Quad following the ceremony in which he was awarded a Doctor of Laws for his contribution to football, charity and wider society.

MSc Artificial Intelligence (AI) graduate Dehlela Shabir, from India, said it’s been “a dream come true” to return to St Andrews this week. Dehlela, who now works in AI research in Qatar, was looking forward to spending the day catching up with friends and introducing them to her nine-month-old son, Adam.

New graduates Gabriela Michele Milkova Robins MA (Hons) English from Macedonia and Daniel Robins PhD Geography from London. The couple met in 2017 as students and got married in Macedonia in the summer of 2021. Always looking for a reason to come back to St Andrews, they will be returning for Gabriela to start her PhD in English in October.

Celebrations to mark the Class of 2020 were held in St Salvator’s Quad from Tuesday 21 to Friday 24 June 2022.

Friends reunited: St Andrews students whose hopes of graduating in the summer of 2020 were dashed by the pandemic have finally been able to celebrate their success with friends and family in the town this week (Wednesday 22 June).

Siblings Kyle and Brodie Sandilands, from East Lothian, celebrated graduating with science degrees on the same day. Kyle graduated with an MPhys Physics while his sister Brodie graduated with an MGeol in Earth Sciences. The family has grown so fond of St Andrews that their parents are moving to a village on the outskirts of the town soon.

Beatrice Mwagomba, from Malawi, completed a PhD in Medicine. 

University Library attendant Dee Bola celebrated receiving her MA (General) Degree in Combined Studies in style with a Salusalu, a traditional garland, sent from her family in Fiji for her special day. The mum of three, who lives at Leuchars Army Station and used the base Co-Working Hub as a study space, was delighted to be able to finally celebrate her academic success with her three children, her brother and her husband, who is currently serving at a base in England. 

Forever Saints (from left): Rebekka Uhl from Austria, Caitlin Evans from Somerset, Theo Brown from Norfolk, and Jennie Duncan from Blanefield, Stirling, celebrated their degree awards.

Chemistry graduate Xingu Lin of Shanghai and Qian Ma from Lanzhou, who graduated with an MSc in Statistics.

Art History graduate Eilkem Logan and Mathematics graduate Sean Clark.

Class of 2020 Ecology and Conservation BSc graduate Anna Kelner (24) and her sister Mia (20), who graduated with an MA (Hons) in English last week with the 2022 cohort.

Ama Appiah, from Manchester and Ghana, who graduated with a degree in Modern History and Russian.

Graduations were a real family affair in St Andrews today (Thursday 23 June) as generations gathered to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2020.

Three generations of an Oxfordshire family returned to St Andrews this week to celebrate their most recent graduation success. Emily Wickens, who received an MLitt in Management, follows in the footsteps of her mother, Liz, an English Literature graduate, and her granny, Jane Archer, who graduated with a degree in French, German and Latin. Emily’s parents met whilst Liz was learning to play the organ during her first year, and her sister also studied at the University. Jane said she was delighted to be back in the town where she “always feels welcome”.

Class of 2020 Computer Science graduate Gavin Standford celebrated his return to St Andrews with his twin brother Mark, a graduate of Edinburgh University, their sister, parents and aunts. In addition to his degree, Gavin, of Haddington, served a sabbatical as Director of Student Development and Activities for the Students’ Association from 2020-2021, a job made more challenging due to the pandemic.

Manraj Sanghera, of Dudley in the West Midlands, graduated with a degree in Astrophysics from the School of Physics and Astronomy. Now working as a consultant with BP in London, Manraj said he was enjoying being back in St Andrews and catching up with friends.

Computer Science graduate Sarah Armstrong of Northern Ireland and Sophie Tyler, a Geography graduate from York, said they were delighted to finally be able to celebrate their degree success. The pair live around the corner from each other in Edinburgh.

Former sabbatical officers who led students through the first lockdown period and the first-ever virtual Freshers’ Week celebrated today (from left): Amy Gallacher, Sophie Tyler, Gavin Sandford and Dan Marshall.

Pictured with Sallies Hall mascot Chirpy is Daniela Matwiejuk from Dundee, an English graduate who is going on to teacher training.

Former Chancellor’s Piper Sarah Lamorte, from New York, who will graduate with an MChem tomorrow.

Psychology graduate Maria Chanduvi from Austria with her nephew Arturo.

Honorary graduate Dr Fiona Hill is pictured in the procession following the afternoon ceremony where she was awarded a DLitt for her contribution to International Relations.

A real-life Indiana Jones who spent 50 years excavating historic sites, and the man who drove forward the development of a Madras College fit for the future, both had their contributions to education recognised by the University of St Andrews today.

Australian-born archaeologist Dr Warwick Ball has lived, worked and travelled in most countries between Europe and China and has excavated in Iran, Libya, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Jordan, Iraq and Syria. He has also devoted decades of his life to carrying out architectural studies and monumental restoration throughout the Middle East and adjacent regions. This afternoon he received a Doctor of Letters in recognition of his work in Near Eastern archaeology from the University of St Andrews.

Former Madras College rector David McClure, who has worked in education for 45 years, received the University Medal.  David began his working life as an engineer before being drawn to teaching. He is credited with transforming the outcomes of pupils while Rector of Buckhaven High School (later to become the new Levenmouth Academy) as well as the creation of a new Madras College and the transition of the former school building to the University.

The pair were joined by 2020 graduates whose ceremonies were delayed due to the Covid pandemic.

Former Madras College Rector David McClure was awarded the University Medal by Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, at a ceremony in the town’s Younger Hall.

Anna Grybenyuk celebrated gaining an MLitt in Museum and Gallery Studies with family members. including partner, Harrison Pickett, and mum, Natalia Biletska, a computing officer in the University’s School of Modern Languages. Anna, who was wearing Ukranian national dress including a Vinok headdress and embroidered Vyshyvanka shirt, already has an MA in Modern History and Russian from the University, which included a year in St Petersburg, and is working on digitising the photo collection at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther.

Graduating with Hawaiian garlands today were International Relations (IR) graduates Thomas Halvorsen, of Connecticut, USA; Kai Garson from Hilo in Hawaii and Hector McKemey, of San Francisco, who met in first year and have remained firm friends. Since completing an MA in IR and Middle East studies in 2020, Thomas has undertaken an MLitt on Iranian Studies, graduating last December. Kai, who graduated with an MA in IR and Modern History, is now undertaking an Advanced Masters in Diplomacy at Leiden University, and Hector, who was wearing the Fraser of Lovat tartan in tribute to his Scottish parentage, is now working on his dissertation for an MLitt in Strategic Studies. The group have been firm friends since meeting as first year residents of St Regulus Hall.

Sami Squali Houssaini, from Morocco, who’s continuing his Medical degree in Manchester.

Evgeniya Pakhomova, from Russia, who was celebrating her degree in Art History and Social Anthropology with Pino Noir, the dog. Evgeniya is currently undertaking her PhD in Social Anthropology at St Andrews.

Rachel Kuhn from the US/Taiwan, who celebrated her MLitt in Global Social and Political Thought with her partner and family. Rachel, who is five months pregnant, is working for a non-profit organisation in Seattle.

The University of St Andrews Class of 2020 celebrating academic success on Friday 24 June 2022.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

Category Student experience

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