The end of my PhD journey was commemorated by a lavish graduation ceremony at the Brighton Centre, followed by a barbecue celebration with friends and family. It was a lovely occasion. The day was bright and beautiful , the sun shined brightly in the sky and the atmosphere was warm filled with positive feelings and vibes.
My husband, parents and son accompanied me to my graduation. This graduation was extra special because it would be my last. I have attended 4 graduation ceremonies in total: Bachelors; Postgraduate; Masters and now my Doctorate. They were all special and I remember them fondly. My son was 4 years old when he attended my first graduation and now at 20 years old he attended my last. This ceremony was just as exciting for him as the first. I remember him shouting out “go Mummy” at every graduation ceremony and this one was the same.
This ceremony was just as emotional as the first for me and my family. My father promised me he would attend this ceremony and he kept his promise traveling from Jamaica to attend. This was my husband’s first and my first ceremony as his wife.
What was particularly significant for me at this ceremony was when I went onto the stage to collect my certificate I remained on the stage throughout the proceedings and sat with my fellow Doctors and Professors. Two of us were presented with our doctorates – Dr Sally Baker and I. Our thesis titles along with our title and name were read out. At that moment I felt a part of the academic elite. It was an amazing feeling sitting on the stage and watching the other graduates collect their certificates and return to their seats, seeing the proceedings from a different angle.
I felt blessed and humbled while sitting on the stage, because the black girl who was told by her career officer at secondary school that she was not academic enough to study A-levels, is now a Doctor of Philosophy.
I am always reminded and I will always proclaim. Do not let anyone define your future or clip your wings, soar high into your dreams and achieve your goals. If I can do it, so can you.