The return to campus for the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science started with a great reason to celebrate: graduation ceremonies for more than 200 students who finished their studies during the pandemic and were able to be on campus this week. After they ceremony, they reflected upon their ANU journeys and offered advice for those who are just beginning theirs.
“It’s been such a ride,” said Dawn Leonardo, who graduated from a Flexible Double Degree (Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce). “Being part of student societies and going to Nepal to participate in a Humanitarian Design Summit were definitely highlights for me,” she said. There were challenges, such as being away from friends and family, but also ways to mitigate it: “making sure to check in with people, making sure you are not alone and keep going”.
CECS graduates wore ceremonial attire and gathered at Llewellyn Hall to receive their degrees in ceremonies hosted by ANU Chancellor, the Hon Julie Bishop, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt. Under the eyes of family and friends attending in person, and other loved ones watching it online, the students crossed the stage as their degrees were announced by interim Dean of CECS, Professor Nick Birbilis. Despite the masks — which in many cases matched dresses and suits — the pride and happiness of the graduates could be seen in their smiling eyes and bouyant strides across the stage. Gabriela Izurieta, who graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Science, said, “I formed a really good, close, partner group of female friends in Engineering, and if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I would have completed the degree to the quality that I have.” Navigating the pandemic taught her Gabriela to find balance between her studies and all other things happening in life, and she advises new students to find the sweet spot between university and social life. Priya Guha (Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce) was the Women’s representative at the Engineering Students Association during her degree. She said that people should not be afraid to reach out to their friends and lecturers. “University is a very welcoming and supportive place.” For her, organizing and attending academic and industry events made her student journey inspiring and unique. During the formal ceremony, some graduating students were invited to share a few words about their academic experience: on Monday, Matilda Dowse, who helped lead multiple clubs and societies, and on Wednesday, Ryan Pike, who served as a research assistant and university tutor.
Advice to new students: embrace new experiences
“I would definitely recommend engaging as much in activities as possible, online or in person. As long as you take part in activities, you will see opportunities and you will get more than you can expect,” said Yiwei Wu, who studied the Master of Computing and did an internship with the ACT government with the support of ANU. Samuel Wilson (Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Finance) recommended stepping out of one’s comfort zone and trying everything. “Go act in musicals, play a sport, it all helps your uni experience,” he said. “Graduation is an opportunity to reflect on what you achieved,” said the Vice-Chancellor about the newly graduated professionals. “The world has shifted dramatically over the past few years, and it is our next generation of leaders that will take up the opportunities to help the world prosper into the future. I hope you go out into the world with a goal to make it a better place.” We have no doubt the graduates of the College will.