Students Staff

13 July 2016

Warm welcome for alumni who missed original graduation day

Jason Goulding

Imagine missing your graduation ceremony after being struck down by swine flu.

That is exactly what happened to University of Essex Business and Management graduate Jason Goulding, 27, from Colchester, back at the height of the 2009 pandemic.

Now the University of Essex has stepped in to offer him the chance to join this year's Graduation celebrations and receive his degree at one of the official ceremonies.

Jason, now Manager of Group Propositions at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “I cannot believe I have had this opportunity to come and experience Graduation for the first time. It is so nice to be back here at the Colchester Campus – it has changed so much since I was studying here.”

Graduation day back in 2009 should have been a very special day – it was also Jason's 21st birthday and there was a family party planned for after the ceremony. Instead Jason was in hospital fighting the Swine Flu virus.

It took two months for Jason to regain his health and he has since gone on to build a successful career in London with Lloyds Banking Group, but he has always wondered what it would have been like to have enjoyed his Graduation day.

Fortunately one of Jason’s friends spotted the opportunity, Jason applied and he found himself back at the Colchester Campus in full robes and mortar board seven years after he should have been joining in the celebrations.

Jason said: “I had a great time studying at the University and it was such an important part of my life when I was figuring out what I wanted to do in the future. I put a lot of effort into my degree and I've gained the rewards from that. What I learnt at Essex has really helped me in the roles I have taken on since graduating.”

Alumni from across the world take "second chance" to attend graduation

Since celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014-15, the University of Essex has been offering graduates who missed out on their original ceremony the chance to apply to come back and enjoy Graduation - the buzz of the Colchester Campus, the chance to shake hands with the Chancellor and the thrill of receiving your degree in front of loved ones.

This year Essex graduates are travelling back to the Colchester Campus from all over the UK and the rest of the world to experience the Graduation they missed out on for all kinds of reasons – from a family crisis to securing the job of a “lifetime” in some far flung location. Alumni are travelling from Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Kuwait to be part of Graduation 2016.

Lady Stephanie Huerta Hernandez

Lady Stephanie Huerta Hernandez, from Monterey in Mexico, completed her MA Conflict Resolution in 2014, but could not afford to come back to the UK for her graduation ceremony.

She said: "It is amazing to be here for Graduation. I am so happy - it is like a dream come true. When I couldn't come to my first graduation I never thought I would have this second chance. I feel really blessed."

Dr Abdullah Al Fraidan

Dr Abdullah Al Fraidan travelled with his parents to join Graduation 2016 at Essex. The pioneering academic received a British Council Education UK Alumni Award earlier this year for the way he has used his experience at the University of Essex to inform his work to transform online learning opportunities in Saudi Arabia. He graduated in 2010, but could not attend his graduation due to work commitments.

His visit to the UK coincides with a postdoctoral research grant he has received to work with colleagues at the Department of Language and Linguistics.

He said: "It is such a great feeling to be here again - so many memories are coming back to me."

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