Ladies and Gentleman,
On behalf of all the graduands, I would like to thank our Head of School, lecturers, dissertation supervisors, and all the supporting staff for their encouragement, motivation, inspiration and guidance, all of which have combined to enable us to be here today.
In preparing this speech, I thought back to my first day at Bucks New University and how surreal it felt being shown around for the first time and meeting so many new people.
Looking around now, we may recognise those people as colleagues or even as very good friends.
We have all had our own unique and often extreme challenges. Much like a rollercoaster, there have been highs and lows and plenty of uncertainties in between. None of us could have known how much we would have to go through to get here today.
The shifts were long, but the years were short! There were times when we woke up feeling strong, and other times when we continued regardless of how we felt. And when people asked when we would be free, we would jokingly say, “Maybe when I graduate”.
There has been lots of hard work, endless hours in the library and collective nerves when we wrote our first assignments. All of that was made easier though by the University staff who were always available for support – without them, things would have been much more difficult.
I am so grateful for the support and wise words that my peers and personal tutor shared with me over the last three years. Even the simple, “You can do this”, meant so much. Thank you to our families and friends for their love and support, too.
We have benefited from the chance to experience the world of work through placements applying what we’ve learned in real-life situations. When I explored alternative opportunities in nursing, my efforts were acknowledged and supported. For example, I had the opportunity to go to the European High Commission in Brussels to attend the European Nursing Student Association Annual General Meeting on behalf of the Student Committee in the Royal College of Nursing.
I have learnt the importance of the showing up and getting involved, either within university or within the Royal College of Nursing and the Nursing and Midwifery Council. The kindness of people never ceases to amaze me.
I compare our nursing training to learning to ride a bike. We start slow, steady and with stabilisers. Then as we go forward, we learn to find our balance. Sometimes we get a push, other times we push ourselves. But we learn to keep going.
Then we have our stabilisers taken off to work as a qualified nurse. It’s like going from cycling in a park to riding a bike on a busy road. We feel the need to ride faster to keep up with those around us and for those who are relying on us. Learning to navigate around difficult terrain can be challenging.
Life as a nurse is definitely life in the fast lane. It can feel relentless but, my goodness, it can be so rewarding.
We can all be proud of what we have accomplished and know that we can look forward to new and exciting challenges on the horizon. So keep going.