Well, the day finally came that I got to don my doctoral robes and graduate from my DPhil. This blog started because of the setback I had with major corrections and it only seems right that I share my experience of my graduation day which represented the culmination of all that hard work.
It seems strange, but I didn't think that graduating would matter so much. My doctorate was formally approved way back in May 2015 and I had to wait a year for an available graduation date (because graduations at the University of Oxford are heavily oversubscribed and other reasons which are opaque to me!). But as the day arrived, as did my family from Ireland, it was clear that this was the day we had all been waiting for. The robes made it real.
The day was brilliant. It started with heading up to my college, Wolfson College, in my sub fusc to attend a champagne reception and lunch. Sub fusc is something that all Oxford students will wear at different points of their studies (exams, matriculation, graduation). Usually it is a dark suit, skirt and tights, black shoes, white shirt, bow tie or ribbon, coupled with a gown. This is me heading off to Wolfson College in mine:
At Wolfson College I collected my doctoral robes and donned them for the requisite family photos. It was a beautiful day and so lovely to share my college home of 4 years with my family.
After lunch, we headed to the historic Sheldonian theatre (built by Sir Christopher Wren, of St Pauls Cathedral fame). I returned to my black subfusc and left my doctoral robes in an adjacent building. We processed into the theatre according to rank (DPhils, Masters, Undergraduate). The ceremony itself is a very solemn affair and conducted wholly in Latin. The DPhil students stand in front of the Vice-Chancellor of the University and the Proctors where we swear an oath binding us to be obedient and faithful to the University and its interests, and to comport ourselves circumspectly at elections to University offices. We then process out of the theatre, change into the colourful doctoral robes, and are processed back into the theatre to applause. (This process is then repeated for the other students). At the end, the graduands walk out of the theatre. This time undergraduates first, followed by masters. When it was the turn of the DPhils it was a shock and pleasant surpise to see that all the preceeding students were lined up like an honour guard for the DPhils, Vice-Chancellor and Proctors. It truly felt like a very special occasion and one which truly cemented the fact that I am now Dr Fiona Whelan.
I could not have done it with my amazingly supportive family. Thank you so so much!!