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First day of graduation ceremonies held on the Ipswich Waterfront

14 Oct 2019 9:15PM

Students from the Suffolk Business School and the University of Suffolk at Suffolk New College have received their degrees during the first day of graduation ceremonies.

Today also marked the first time the new University of Suffolk Mace was used. Within higher education, a ceremonial mace has been a symbol of university scholarship and integrity since the 11th century.

Local wood turner, Darren Breeze, created the Mace using the design by Elizabeth Martin. Elizabeth’s design was chosen following a county-wide competition. The Mace uses traditional and modern materials including elements made using the University’s 3D printer. 

Professor Helen Langton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Suffolk, said, “Being a young university, we wanted something traditional but with a modern twist. We are keen to demonstrate that as a University we are forward-thinking but keen to preserve and respect our county’s heritage. The judging panel liked the fact that Elizabeth’s design incorporated typically Suffolk symbols and associations but in a subtle way. Elizabeth’s design features the sun rising over the sea and features the University’s iconic Question Mark. Three ‘nut bolts’ symbolise Suffolk’s Trinity- the Suffolk Punch horse, the Black Faced sheep and the Red Poll cattle.”

Alongside the students being presented with their degrees today was Sarah Holmes who received an honorary doctorate. 

Sarah has been the Chief Executive of the New Wolsey Theatre since the year 2000. She began her career in her native New Zealand at Downstage Theatre, Wellington before moving to the UK in 1980 seeking further opportunities in the British theatre industry.

She said of the honorary award “I have three sisters and they all received university degrees, I was the rebel of the family who didn’t do ‘proper’ education so it is really quite funny to be here today getting this honorary degree.”

“I think this is such an exciting moment for the students graduating this evening, they are just beginning the next stage of their lives- what a major achievement to have got a degree, to have done all that work and growing intellectually and now they can apply it.”

To the graduating students, Sarah had this message “There are barriers but I think you should ignore them and do what you want to do, and do it to the best of your ability. Make sure you are confident, and don’t feel put down or don’t feel you’re inferior in any way whether it is because you’re female or male or whether you’re a bit more shy than somebody else- just be honest and real. Push yourself as far as you want to push. Not everyone will want the Chief Executive role but there are plenty of other positions in life.”

1,517 students will be conferred at ceremonies in Ipswich this week. The graduations in Ipswich are the last of 2019. Other ceremonies have already taken place in Bury St Edmunds and Great Yarmouth.


University of Suffolk Press Office
T: 01473 338476