Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Graduation unsung hero: Helen Knight

Hear from colleagues who are taking time to contribute to graduation week, find out about their role and what they enjoy about it. It's a chance to see some of the work that goes on behind the scenes to help make graduation week a success.

Behind the scenes with...h_knight200x200.jpg

Helen Knight

Research Administrator and Warwick Policy Lab Manager, Economics

Role at graduation: Mace Bearer

My usual job involves...

Research administration, with a particular focus on research impact and providing support for Warwick Policy Lab projects. I also provide administrative support to my Head of Department and the Chief Policy and Strategy Officer on a range of department priorities, strategic projects and other initiatives.

In addition, I administer and manage the Warwick Laksh Volunteering Project, which offers teaching placements to Warwick students in India.

This year during graduation week I will be...

acting as Esquire Bedell, or Mace Bearer, for two ceremonies. The Mace Bearer is responsible for leading the Academic Procession, and according to tradition, protects the Chancellor.

I will be working within the Academic Procession Team, and will start off in the Helen Martin Studio with the VIPs and the University’s senior officers. Then when the time comes I will be escorted to the Chaplaincy by Security to meet the academics and officers from the particular faculty which is graduating that day to lead them into the Butterworth Hall. After placing the mace in front of the stage I take my seat for the ceremony, and watch the proceedings until it’s time to lead the procession out of the hall when the ceremony is closed.

I’ve volunteered in several roles in previous years, and I'm very much looking forward to being Mace Bearer.

I really enjoy being involved with...

any role within the actual ceremony itself, as it gives me the chance to see the result of years of our students own hard work. I enjoy listening to the orations too, and seeing colleagues being rewarded for their endeavours by getting WATE awards, or the Chancellors medal. There’s a lovely positive vibe in the hall and real excitement. I also like joining in with the big cheer at the end!

Graduation week is unique because...

all members of the University community come together to celebrate the achievements of our students, from senior officers to academic, administrative and technical staff. Between us all, we put on an amazing celebration for our students and give them a real day to remember. It is an event to be very proud of.

If I could change one thing about graduation it would be...

there never seems to be enough time in the day – from an organisational point of view, and also for the students. It would be lovely to give them a bit more time before the ceremony to enjoy wearing their gowns, take photos and catch up with old friends before they take part in the final activity of their degree.

Not everyone knows that...

the mace used in the procession bears the inscription ‘Ego sum via, vita et veritas’ (I am the way, the life and the truth).

Everything is organised within the ceremony with military precision, to ensure it runs like clockwork and without a hitch. Before each individual goes up onto the stage, their names are subtly checked at least three times by members of the seating team to make certain that they walk on to the right name and receive the right certificate.

So much work is done by the small awards and ceremonies team and colleagues across the University to prepare for the week, and the ceremonies are a credit to all those involved in advance and on the day.

What would you say to colleagues considering getting involved?

Don’t hesitate! It’s a real privilege to be involved in this important occasion and to help create a special event and wonderful memories for our students.

In three words, what invaluable tip or advice would you give graduands?

Pin your hood.

(You want to look super sharp when you walk up onto that stage to shake the Vice Chancellor's hand and receive that important certificate!)

Hear from our other unsung heroes