Graduating Griffith students are celebrating their academic milestone virtually this year as COVID-19 mass gathering restrictions move the ceremonies online.

From this week, more than 2700 students will become alumni and receive their digital graduating pack which includes messages from Chancellor Henry Smerdon AM (DUniv), Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans, Pro Vice Chancellors, graduating student speeches, a digital Conferral List handbook and entertainment from Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University alumni. In the mail, they also receive their Testamur and a mortarboard.

The journey to the finish line has been anything but normal for 2020’s mid-year graduates, and Professor Evans congratulated students on clearing an enormous final hurdle.

“We would have really loved to have been celebrating this graduation in person with you, but what’s really important is not a particular moment in time, however special a graduation in person might be,” Professor Evans said.

“What’s really important is that during your time here at Griffith you have learned, you have developed as a person, you have developed intellectually and you have had to overcome almost certainly a lot of obstacles along the way, and perhaps this year more than most.

“That you’ve done so is a great tribute to your resilience, to your determination, and to your ability to find your way in the world.”

Chancellor Smerdon acknowledged the changing times.

“We are living in a world of considerable change and unprecedented challenge and hence today’s conferral of academic awards is certainly a little different,” Chancellor Smerdon said.

“However, what remains unchanged is the excitement we share for today’s graduates.

“You should feel immensely proud, as we are, of your achievements.”

Meet some of our 2020 graduates

Hayley Mapri watches the VC deliver her graduation speech online

Master of Teaching alumnus Hayley Mapri experienced the impacts of COVID-19 on her studies and had to complete her final block of teaching Professional Experience online.

“I think teaching online will certainly make me a better teacher in the soft skills department, with the resilience required and just knowing whatever life throws at you, you can still get through,” Hayley said.

“Graduating online isn’t ideal but we’re all grateful to graduate, in whatever capacity that is.”

Master of Advanced Health Services Management graduate Mercy Nyanchoga said despite the complications of studying and graduation during a pandemic, there was still so much to celebrate.

“The journeys of each of today’s graduates may have been individual and unique but I believe many of us have shared similar experiences and feelings,” Mercy said.

“Today’s achievements bring immense feelings of joy, pride and huge accomplishment.”

“Like many of my fellow graduates, with university has come lots of sacrifices, be it living far away from home or forgoing work, social life or family commitments in order to feed our learning appetite at Griffith University.

“All these challenges have brought us together regardless of our backgrounds.”

Mercy reflected on her time as an international student.

“Two years ago I made the bold decision to leave my family, work and home country, which is Kenya in East Africa, to relocate to Brisbane and start a new life and make new memories,” she said.

“I did not know anyone and had to start from scratch.

“I can assure you that I’m not the same girl I was when I arrived in Brisbane two years ago

“I have grown profoundly both professionally and personally.

“Was it easy? No, not at all.

“Has it been worthwhile? Absolutely.”