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The University of Southampton
Doctoral College

Doctorate degrees awarded alongside HRH The Duchess of Cornwall

Published: 16 February 2016
HRH receiving her Honorary Doctorat
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall receiving her Honorary Doctorate

Thirteen PhD students graduated in a unique ceremony last week, where they received their Doctorate degrees alongside HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

In front of their families, friends, supervisors and University staff, each student took to the stage to receive their degree from Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Vice Chancellor of the University. The intimate ceremony acted as recognition for each student’s determination, ambition and achievement in completing their PhD studies.

The Duchess of Cornwall received an Honorary Doctorate for her tireless leadership in supporting patients, researchers and health professionals engaged in the management of osteoporosis.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre, at the University, has worked with The Duchess of Cornwall on a number of osteoporosis prevention projects.

He says: “As President of the National Osteoporosis Society, and a previous speaker for the International Osteoporosis Foundation, The Duchess of Cornwall has been a champion for all who work with, or suffer from, this debilitating disorder which leads to many thousands of fractures each year. The excellence of the clinical service and research programme here at the University of Southampton would not have been possible without the encouragement and support that she has given."

Following the ceremony, graduates and their guests were treated to a celebratory reception in Garden Court.

'I get to work with the brightest and most enthusiastic students'

Speaking at the reception, Professor James Vickers, Director of the Doctoral College says: "I have the best job in the University and get to work with the brightest and most enthusiastic students. All of our PhD students go on to make an impact and improve the world for the better."

James continued on to congratulate the graduates for their hard work and drive, saying "completing a PhD is not just simply doing research. These students have developed a huge range of invaluable skills which will take them forward into their future careers. Today is about celebrating the success of finishing your PhD and knowing you are world experts in your field."

Graduates attending the ceremony received doctorates from varying areas of study including Chemistry, Optoelectronics, Modern Languages, Maths and Human Development and Health.

Dr Emily Matthews, graduating from Maths, said she was really happy to graduate and enjoyed the ceremony. She is now a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University and was pleased her family, husband and supervisor could be with her on her special day. Looking back on her postgraduate studies, Emily says: "The highlights of my PhD were attending international conferences, meeting other PhD students and being part of the supportive PhD community here at the University."

Dr Ayham Al-Muhammad, graduating from Chemistry, also enjoyed the occasion and liked the intimacy of the ceremony. He says: "This ceremony had a different feel and it was interesting to hear the achievements of the Duchess of Cornwall and hear her talk about the personal connection she has to the osteoporosis research happening here." Ayham is now pursuing a career outside academia which is related to his doctoral research.

Travelling all the way from South Korea, Dr Jiyeon Lee, graduating from Modern Languages, was delighted to be able to attend the ceremony and officially mark the end of her doctoral studies. She says: "Today was definitely a special event for me and it has been the most beautiful day. After the ceremony, we got the chance to have our photo taken with the Duchess of Cornwall and I got to speak to her. She was interested in my research and really lovely."

'As you start to approach the end of your PhD, you see how far you have come'

Jiyeon went on to say that she is now teaching at a University in South Korea. "I had a few ups and downs in my PhD, but I was so motivated to finish it. As you start to approach the end of your PhD, you see how far you have come and how your research will start to contribute to society. My advice to anyone looking to do a PhD is to do one! There will be some difficulties but nothing you can’t face."

Professor Jennifer Jenkins supervised Jiyeon throughout her PhD and was proud to see her graduate last week: "It is lovely to see your students complete their studies and hear their thesis titles read out during the graduation ceremony. All my students work exceptionally hard and one of my proudest moments, apart from them graduating, is seeing their first journal article be published."

Speaking about the inherent need for doctoral research in her area, Jennifer says: "For a new and developing field like Global Englishes, PhD students are absolutely vital to the future of the field, perhaps more so than in already well-established fields."

Dr Emma Waight, graduating from Geography and Environment, says “It was particularly special to be part of this unique ceremony and I enjoyed hearing about the Duchess of Cornwall’s work in the faculty of medicine. I’m very proud to graduate from the University of Southampton and today’s ceremony was a wonderful end to a very rewarding four years.”

Congratulations to the recent PhD graduates from all at the Doctoral College. We look forward to seeing where your careers take you and the great achievements which no doubt lay before you.

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