Yesterday was the first De Montfort University Graduation Ceremony that I’ve been to at the Curve Theatre in Leicester. It was a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements and commitment of the graduates from the Faculty of Technology. The venue was packed and the theatrical nature of the event was great. There was a real sense of occasion and a willingness to encourage the graduates and their families to show their support for one another. This wasn’t stuffy in any way. It was easy to follow, and each student got their opportunity to shake the hand of the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Andy Downton. It was clearly well designed to lay down a marker showing the progression of a whole group of talented and enthusiastic people who are no longer students, but graduates.
It’s always a good opportunity to spend time with colleagues, who like me seem to enjoy the dressing-up.
Afterwards, Simon Walsh had organised a chance for a drink with some of our graduates and their families in the Font Bar, which is just on the DMU campus. In years gone past the campus was always empty during graduation week, but now that the DMU car parks are being used by the graduates and their families, it is great to see so many people about in their robes and their suits. The campus really feels alive for graduation.
So having a drink gave Simon and I an opportunity to catch-up, connect with people we’d heard about but never met. It was great to see so many people relaxing and chatting, and it gave me a good chance to talk to the parents, siblings, grandparents and friends of the students I’ve been working with for the last three or four years. It’s only when we sat and chatted like this that I felt the force of the pride and backing that our students have received from their families. Everyone who I spoke with was really proud of the personal achievements of everyone, the chances that they had, and the memories they are moving onward with.
Indeed, it made me realise how much I and my colleagues have to raise our game in the future and deliver an even better service. One that goes beyond the traditional approach to learning, skills and personal development and sees each individual as someone with potential and a fair chance to do well in life based on merit. What I realised when I was sat chatting is that it is all about promoting a sense of community, identity and belonging. Our students and their families really care and have a strong sense of esteem tied with what they do.
It’s great to be able to share that pride and to show in return how proud I’ve been of the work that our students have done. It’s not an even road, and we do have zig-zags along the way, but I can really say that the graduates from BSc Radio Production & Technology are clearly stepping up to the mark. The focus for the future that this group of gradates is now concentrating on is about finding meaningful work in the media industry. The growing sense of confidence and entitlement that this is even possible, and not just a vague dream, is humbling. It’s been my dream for some years now that our graduates are able to easily make these first steps in to a life that they will find rewarding, and it’s great to see it coming on in such a unified way.
The group mindset of these graduates is that they believe they are capable and entitled to work as professionals in the media industries. The level of professionalism and engagement, based on a mindset that is about innovation and discovery is really exciting – and these guys have it. This batch of graduates clearly get the idea that they have defined and sought after skills that will enable them to produce compelling and interesting radio and audio content. At the same time they are able to do this with a strong grasp of the process and practical realities of the media professions. They know that they have to be entrepreneurial, and they know that the have to embrace new technology, new ways of working and new ways of thinking in order to be successful.
I’m certain that the foundation of skills and knowledge that they have acquired during their time at DMU will help to take them on a journey that will be very different from many gradates of other media courses. When I was asked what the job prospects are like for these graduates, I can honestly reply that I think they are very strong – even in the midst of a recession. This is a generation who are going to figure things out their own way, and who only need the space, encouragement and support to do so. Of course, there is no automatic stepping-stone into the media industries, but if you want a clear example of graduates who are capable of getting meaningful and rewarding jobs, then this is a year to look at.
Both Simon, myself and my colleagues in the Faculty of Technology don’t want the journey through DMU for these graduates to end at this point. W are very keen to keep in contact. We could never do this easily before, in the direct way, but now it’s possible and easy with Facebook and other forms of social media. We definitely need to be getting on with making plans for some alumni events. Then I’m very keen to organise more family and supporters events as well. Graduation has proven to be a great opportunity to talk with so many people and hear them express their pride in what they have achieved and their believe and confidence as they face the new discoveries of the future.