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University students celebrate virtual graduation

Natalya Smardon Matthews’ bubble threw her a surprise graduation. Supplied image.

More than 1000 University of Waikato students graduated in April. While none could be part of a traditional ceremony because of lockdown, many have taken it upon themselves to celebrate graduation in a more unique way. 

Last week, students took to social media, sharing images of them wearing graduation gowns and headboards made from items found in their home.

“My bubble threw me a surprise graduation ceremony after work. DIY cap, gown and certificate! Super stoked,” one student posted.

Last week, Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley addressed graduates via video, acknowledging that, despite the current situation, students should still be proud of their accomplishments.

“The University wanted to take some time to celebrate your hard work, and your achievements in completing your qualification,” says Neil.

“In my role as vice-chancellor, the opportunity to congratulate our graduates face-to-face at a graduation ceremony is one of the highlights of my role, and I certainly regret not being able to do it on this occasion. So today, I am sharing this video message with you – a first in the history of graduations at the University of Waikato.

“On behalf of the whole university community, I celebrate with you today the great event that is your graduation, and I wish you all the best in the next phase of your life.”

In the same video, University of Waikato Chancellor, Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, also addressed graduates, saying that while the situation does not allow for a traditional ceremony, it shouldn’t affect the importance and significance of the occasion.

“It represents the culmination of months and, in some cases, years of focussed effort. You have every right, individually, to feel satisfied and proud of your achievement.”

Aimee Imperial got creative with her cap and gown. Supplied image.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate, and Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell, along with Waikato Students’ Union president, Kyla Campbell-Kamariera, also shared video messages to graduates.

The University of Waikato April graduation ceremonies were due to take place at Claudelands Events Centre and the University’s Te Kohinga Mārama Marae.

Students who would have graduated at the university’s Tauranga ceremony, which normally takes place in the middle of the year, also graduated this month.

Students were unable to take part in traditional graduation ceremony this April. Supplied image.

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