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Birkbeck celebrates Graduation Week

A woman in her nineties and a man who has just earned his sixth degree are among some of those who have celebrated achieving a degree from Birkbeck this week.

Baroness Joan Bakewell congratulates a graduate

A woman in her nineties and a man who has just earned his sixth degree are among some of those who have celebrated achieving a degree from Birkbeck this week.

Patricia Bishop, who is 91, graduated from Birkbeck this week with a Master’s degree in Shakespeare and Contemporary Performance. As part of her dissertation project, Archway resident ­Patricia watched 37 performances of Shakespeare’s work at the Globe Theatre in the space of six weeks – at one point seeing three performances in a single day.

“I really did become something of a fixture at the theatre,” said Patricia, who is still a regular audience member, attending the theatre up to twice a month.

Speaking about her time at Birkbeck, she said: “Of course I was one of the older ones, but most people were in their 20s and 30s which was nice. I have always worked with young people as a psychologist, and so I liked that about the classes.

“In fact the contact with people from different backgrounds and with younger minds was most enjoyable and refreshing. It was good for my morale that younger students often told me that they found my enthusiasm and effort a source of encouragement.”

“I have huge appreciation for the team at Birkbeck,” she went on. “Throughout my time I have experienced enormous encouragement, support and really practical help.”

David Sutherland, from Surrey, also celebrated achieving his sixth degree – and the third he has achieved at Birkbeck – when he graduated this week with a Master’s degree in European History.

He said he especially enjoyed researching and writing his dissertation, which focused on the Scottish Continental herring trade in the ‘long 19th Century’ – a topic which is linked to his family history.

“My ancestors came from Wick in the North of Scotland, and it has been fascinating to find out how their livelihoods depended on a trade that extended far into continental Europe – to Vienna, Moscow, Romania, and even Odessa,” he said.  

Graduation Week saw celebrations return to the University of London’s Senate House in Bloomsbury, with over a thousand graduates collecting their degrees over three days of ceremonies in the building’s art deco masterpiece, Beveridge Hall. Luminaries including Winston Churchill have been presented with degrees there.  

Led by the President of Birkbeck, Baroness Joan Bakewell, and the Master of the College, Professor David Latchman, the six ceremonies symbolised a collective celebration of graduates achieving a degree-level qualification while also balancing busy work and home lives.

Speaking before this spring’s graduation ceremonies, Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, said:

“The atmosphere at graduation reflects the special bond between students, who know what a fulfilling challenge studying at Birkbeck can be; and staff, who have enabled students to develop and grow over the course of their studies.

“It is especially fitting – as a constituent college of the University of London – that our graduation ceremonies return to Senate House, which is a suitably impressive venue to celebrate the achievement of all our students.”

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