More than 150 former students reunited to celebrate their time at Swansea University Medical School with a unique virtual graduation celebration.
The participants – some joined by proud parents- linked up virtually with senior staff for the University’s first ever graduation conducted via video conferencing.
Many of them are already working as junior hospital doctors after being allowed to join the NHS early at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But despite the pressures of their new careers, they were eager to see each other again after spending the past four years studying together. The event was designed to combine elements of the traditional graduation ceremony with lockdown informality.
University Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle said the cohort had recorded several notable firsts during their time at Swansea including becoming the first to graduate early.
He said: “We’re very proud of the contribution that you’ve all made and the fact that you had to end your studies early to contribute to this crisis period.
“We’re really appreciative of all the work that the students have contributed and that the Medical School has been working exceptionally hard to help us through this very difficult period.”
The ceremony was conducted by Professor Kamila Hawthorne, head of Graduate Entry Medicine, who described it as a “great moment to pause and reflect on where you’ve come from and where you’re going to”.
She added: “Our huge congratulations to you all and a very warm welcome to the profession.”
The graduation opened with a music from graduate Alessia Waller and also featured poems by GEM Programme Director Paul Jones and graduate Steven Hastings. He was the winner of this year’s student prize offered by St David’s Medical Foundation, the charity set up to support the Medical School’s ground-breaking work in the fields of medical research and education.
Professor Julian Hopkin, chairman of the Foundation’s trustees and Rector of the Medical School, offered his own congratulations and added: “Medicine richly rewards the capable and caring medic. This is your moment.”
Before swearing the Doctor’s Oath, read out by Latif Miah and Henry Hobson, head of the Medical School, Professor Keith Lloyd paid his own tribute to the new doctors.
He told them: “You have graduated into a profession that has faced many challenges over many centuries, and every time that’s happened through the application of both the science and the art of medicine you, we and our predecessors have always risen to those challenges, just as we will with this.
“Stay safe and remember we are strong community here. And if we help each other there is so much to be gained from that. You have your community here in Swansea and you are now already part of a global community of physicians.
“Like your families and friends, we are immensely enormously proud of you. The world needs bright minds like yours.”
Bringing events to a close Professor Hawthorne said: “As graduate entry students. you’ve travelled very different routes to get to this point and I know that at times you’ve had hardship, stress and had to work harder than you ever thought possible.
“You’ve shown great fortitude resilience and even bravery entering the profession at such a unique and potentially dangerous time.
“I am sure you will make a valuable contribution to health care, whatever you choose to do during your careers and I know that the GEM programme has laid the foundations to help you do whatever you want to do.”
They won’t be the only students marking the end of their studies at Swansea remotely – the University is holding a virtual celebration for graduates on Wednesday, July 22.