All the world's a stage

At every university, graduation ceremonies are high points of the academic year. Roughly translated as ‘taking a step’, graduation symbolises – and celebrates – the move of the former student (now called graduand) into wider society as a graduate.

Left: Graduation ceremony at The Dome in 1965. Right: Husband and wife Mayas Alcharani and Rama Almare holding up their degree certificates after their graduation ceremony.

Graduation ceremony at The Dome in 1965; husband and wife Mayas Alcharani and Rama Almare graduating on the same day.

A time to celebrate

Sussex graduations have become well known for their sense of fun and celebration. Over the years there has been much cheering, singing, dancing and even the occasional marriage proposal! We have celebrated siblings graduating together, parents and children collecting their certificates at the same ceremony, and families rejoicing in their second or even third generation of Sussex graduates.

At the 2023 winter graduation, we celebrated with graduates from over 134 countries. Among them were a husband and wife who were forced to flee Syria 10 years ago. Mayas Alcharani (Development Studies 2021) and Rama Almare (Gender and Development 2021) collected their Masters degrees on the same day.

"I was really proud that I've reached this achievement with my wife,” says Mayas. “Since the day we got engaged, we have built everything together and even now, with our personal achievements, we are doing it together."

Summer 2022 saw the biggest University of Sussex graduation on record, with 42 ceremonies taking place across three weeks in July at the Brighton Centre

As you go on to create change in the world, remember that you are forever Sussex."

We welcomed back Sussex students from 2020 and 2021 who were unable to graduate due to Covid-19 restrictions, as well as the 2022 graduate cohort. Among those who returned to Brighton to cross the stage was Sharyn Trevillyan (Urban and Regional Studies 1978) who had been unable to formally graduate with her classmates, following a move to California.

“I have often been asked how I’ve been able to travel the world (130 countries), run my own business and live abroad,” says Sharyn. “The answer I give is that the University of Sussex taught me to challenge the status quo.”

Graduation is not only a chance to celebrate with friends and family and reflect on achievements, but also the start of the next chapter of the Sussex journey as a member of our Sussex community. As Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE, Chancellor of the University, says, “You are always part of the Sussex community who are kind of like an extended family. As you go on to create change in the world, remember that you are forever Sussex.”

Graduate and father outside the Brighton Centre on graduation day

Okan Demirkan outside the Brighton Centre.

Alumni memories

I sang Waterloo when walking across the stage to receive my diploma – I had to, being a Swede!

Jennifer Nilson Fridell (English with Media Studies 1992)

Receiving my degree from the late Lord Attenborough was an indescribable honour. I spent three wonderful years in Brighton, attending the University of Sussex’s LLB programme. Looking at the photo of me outside the Brighton Centre almost 23 years ago brings back so many great memories of East Slope, Falmer House, Grapevine Bar, the Library, Brighton’s shores and wonderful people, all bringing a smile to my face.

Okan Demirkan (Law 1997)

Having had to wait until I was 40 to study and achieve a degree, my graduation day was one of the best moments of my life. I got a 1:1, and this was due in no small part to the wonderful tutors I had at Sussex in the Education department. I’m now a Headteacher and it all started at Sussex. On stage in 2005, Sir Richard Attenborough indulged me by waving to my two boys who were nine and eleven at the time, and huge Jurassic Park fans.

Amanda Meier (English with Education Studies 2002)

Our Chancellor, Sanjeev Bhaskar, is the most playful and fun Chancellor I know; he made my graduation fun and everyone who saw my graduation pictures wished he was their chancellor too – I think he has a very young heart.

Queen Ododo (Information Technology with Business and Management 2011)

I was lucky enough to graduate three times from Sussex and I think the most poignant was winter 2005, my last graduation at Sussex, not because it was the last but because Lord Attenborough was there just weeks after losing three members of his family in the Boxing Day Tsunami. The fact that he came and celebrated our successes at that time of personal tragedy for him made me realise what a family we are at Sussex.

Sarah-Louise Quinnell (Geography and Environmental Studies with Development Studies 1999)

Sir Richard Attenborough handing in diplomas for the last time at Sussex in 2008, he stepped down the very same year. Another highlight of that year was also the graduation of Sir Ben Kingsley. Happy memories!

Durim Dogani (Media Practice and Theoary 2005)

I would never have thought that I would be graduating with my father... Not many people can say that. It was quite an experience and a prominent memory made. 

Myra Mujtaba Piracha (Law 2019)

I can’t imagine anyone having a better graduation!!

Muhammad Mujtaba Piracha (Development Studies 2010)


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