University of Exeter: Medicine and health students who made own gowns in 2020 graduate in person

Today (Friday June 24) marks the start of the first of a series of graduation events in the College of Medicine and Health, which encompasses students graduating in Medicine, Medical Sciences and Medical Imaging. Many of them played key roles in supporting the NHS and their communities throughout the pandemic.

In 2020, many Medicine students chose to graduate early to help bolster staffing numbers in hospitals, and students across all programmes volunteered to support the NHS in ways including covering shifts, working on covid-related research trials and volunteering to be vaccinators.

And today, the students returned to the University to celebrate their achievements in person. Graduate Dr Molly Dineen, who was among those to graduate early in 2020, said: “It feels really special to be back graduating today. It was a total whirlwind graduating early in 2020 to join the NHS at the height of the pandemic. It was a real mix of emotions, but we wanted to step up and help as doctors.

“It’s important to remind ourselves of the huge achievement of graduating as doctors, and it’s particularly crucial after two really tough years of working as doctors during the pandemic. It’s really exciting to feel like we’re starting the next chapter.”

Fellow graduate Dr Connor Williams said: “I’m really relieved and happy. We’ve waited such a long time for this and it’s such a great feeling to be back celebrating with everyone. Back in 2020 our early graduation came completely out of the blue, and we all pitched in where we could in supporting the NHS at a crazy time.”

Professor Ian Fussell, Associate Dean for Education at the College of Medicine and Health, said: “I’m so proud of all our students. Throughout the pandemic, they demonstrated incredible resilience and flexibility. Many of them had their own family worries to contend with, yet they went above and beyond to implement their skills and training and support the NHS, and their local communities. I’m delighted that we can finally celebrate their successes over an extraordinary three years.”

The students have completed their studies despite significant challenges relating to Covid-19, including the transition to online teaching and students having to adapt to many of their placements in health trusts being cancelled.

This year, 14,334 people will be graduating during 58 ceremonies in June and July in Exeter and Cornwall. They are the first full-scale summer ceremonies to be held since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 31,000 guests are due to watch ceremonies, held on the Streatham campus and in Truro Cathedral, and 22,000 celebration “Exeter Forever” cupcakes and 14,000 punnets of strawberries will be on offer.