Higher Degree Graduation Ceremonies: VC welcome speech

Pro-Chancellor, members of the University Council and Executive Board, University staff, distinguished guests, our graduands, and friends and family: Good morning! 

As President and Vice-Chancellor, I am delighted to welcome you here to celebrate the achievements of our students from this Faculty.

It gives me particular pleasure to welcome our guest speakers today.

The degree congregation is, without doubt, the highlight of the academic year.

Graduands – your journey to this moment has been one of dedication, hard work and self-belief.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done,” Nelson Mandela once said, and today is a testament to that truth. I couldn’t be prouder of what you have achieved, and you should be proud too.

So, let’s take this opportunity and celebrate your achievements with a round of applause and make this Cathedral echo with warm congratulations.

While we celebrate the fabulous achievements of our students, I recall John Donne’s quote: “no one is an island”.  The steadfast support from your families, friends, and University lecturers and staff, has undoubtedly been your bedrock throughout this journey. In recognition of their unwavering support, encouragement, and nurturing, let’s honour them with a resounding round of applause and cheers!

Albert Einstein’s advice rings true today more than ever: “Be a voice, not an echo.”

In a world of rapid technological advancements and pressing environmental challenges, you can make your unique contributions to society, just as our 140,000 alumni globally have done, making them the leaders in their own profession and community.

Our alumni don’t achieve this by treading the same path.

They, like you, each have a unique Surrey story to tell; they have different talents; individual dreams.

So today, I encourage you to follow your heart with courage; dream big and pursue those dreams; achieve the impossible through ambition, determination, and innovation.

You have already taken a leap of faith by coming here to Surrey. You have come together from across the world, representing diverse cultures, to enrich and strengthen our community. You have worked together, supported, and encouraged each other. You have succeeded in your studies and made connections – both intellectually and socially.

And I am proud that your Surrey experience and qualification have equipped you well to shape our world for a better future.

I hope that all of you also feel proud to be associated with the University of Surrey as a leading UK university with a rising global reputation.

Wherever tomorrow and the rest of your life takes you, remember that Surrey is your intellectual home, now and always. Please stay in touch with the University and one another on our SurreyConnects platform. And I encourage you to keep exploring and learning, and keep giving back to communities large and small. 

I hope you will leave Surrey with fond memories, lifelong friendships, and a strong sense of pride.

Finally, I wish you the very best for personal and professional success, good health, and happiness in the future. Thank you.