“Virtual life has been great for me academically! I have had much more time to research and work independently.”
Beginning to see the light
“The St Andrews ‘bubble’ has also in a way shielded us from the world / ‘real life’, living in our small, beautiful, remote bubble. These trying times have probably made us more adaptable to different circumstances and more resilient in the face of adversity. I hope we can live in a world that cares for the earth; the environment and its people.”
Aïda Léna Ndiaye
Master of Art (Honours) in Economics and Management, Friday 2 July 2021
For the third time in the University’s history, instead of sharing their rites of passage with family and friends in person at the Younger Hall, over 1900 graduating students will be conferred their degrees online with virtual ceremonies being streamed into households around the globe.
As a marker of the occasion, we wanted to celebrate with Graduands wherever they were in the world with another ‘Covid-creative’ campaign. The third and – hopefully final – campaign follows on from last year’s Doorstep Saints and Reflections of a Saint, which saw a ‘Can Do’ creative approach to the celebrations of our Classes of 2020.
This time around, in order to ensure that the experience could be shared by students wherever they were, we shot our subjects live in their homes, via mobile technology. From ingenious uses of Tupperware boxes as tripods to the unpredictable nature of wifi, Conferrals Week saw us capture graduating students at home in the Bavarian Alps and Belgium, as well as those remaining in St Andrews and around the UK.
As part of the project, we once again asked our subjects to share their experiences of being in a pandemic – and mostly virtual – student in their final years. And, as lockdown restrictions were beginning to lift, we asked our subjects to share the light and dark moments of their Covid-19 experience.
Their answers are typically thought-provoking and unique, according to their own individual experience: from the importance of kindness and compassion to being part of a close-knit community, even if it is a virtual one.
From their memories of the ‘Beast from the East’, beach bonfires and Ultimate bagels, our Class of 2021 spoke of everything from Anti-Asian hate crimes to resilience in the face of loss and virtual fatigue, as well as a sometimes ‘heart-breaking’ end to their time at St Andrews.
Subjects including newly elected Students’ Association President Lottie Doherty, who noted:
“The involvement in, and response to, social justice movements such as BLM, #metoo, and the climate strikes, has shown that the Class of 2021 are going to be a force for positive change in the world. We’ve attended university during a tumultuous time, which has highlighted a wide variety of different issues, and made us think of the ways we want to get out there and change things.”
See more of Lottie and her fellow Class of 2021 summer graduates’ thoughts on conferrals in the time of Covid below.
“Since we’ve all had to spend a lot of time in isolation, I think we’re graduating knowing a lot more about ourselves – I certainly am”
“St Andrews always seemed so peaceful to me.”
“We are yet to really reckon with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, particularly on a global level.”
“The last four years have definitely changed my life. They were filled with some of the most special memories of my life as well as some of the hardest times.”
“We’ve become really resilient, and I think that we’ve all learned to make the most out of what has been a bad year.”
“We’ve attended university during a tumultuous time, which has highlighted a wide variety of different issues.”
“Attending St Andrews has changed my life.”
“I hope we can live in a world that cares for the earth; the environment and its people.”
Words and photography by Gayle McIntyre, Corporate Communications. Design by Lewis Wake and the Digital Communications team. With conferral congratulations and special thanks to all subjects for their patience, honesty and perseverance.