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Graduation unsung hero: Alison Rowan

Alison RowanThe Unsung Heroes feature gives an insight into an individual staff member’s contribution to graduation week, covering 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...

Alison Rowan, Communications & Marketing Manager, WMG / Press & Policy
Role at graduation: VIP Robing

My usual job involves…

I’m currently seconded to the WMG Academy for Young Engineers, a brand new school for 14-19 year olds opening this September, so my usual job involves working with the Academy team and our employer partners to raise the profile of the school and recruit students.

But during graduation week I…

help with VIP Robing. I’m based in the Helen Martin Studio and I support Yvonne Salter-Wright and her team by ensuring all our Honorary Graduands and Senior Officers are robed, have all the right documents and are ready for the ceremonies. This means keeping an eye on everything from certificates to the mace-carrier’s gloves, making sure everyone looks their best, knows where they are sitting on the stage and have everything they need.

I really enjoy being involved with…

robing the Honorary Graduands. We have some truly amazing people getting honorary degrees each year and they are, almost without exception, incredibly down-to-earth, humble people who are genuinely delighted to be recognised with an honorary degree – it’s a real pleasure to meet them.

Graduation week is unique because…

staff from across the University all step away from their usual day jobs and pull together to give the students a really special day. I really enjoy seeing the students and their families so excited and celebrating and it’s lovely to see so many staff getting involved and working together. There’s a real sense of team.

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

the music! I love it at the start of the week, it really gives a sense of occasion and it is something that our visitors often comment upon; but by the end of the week when you’ve heard it ten or twelve times it is firmly stuck in your head. I find myself humming it for weeks afterwards. Although if we considered changing it, I’d probably be among the first to protest.

Not everyone knows that…

our Mace was a gift from the University of Oxford – it’s a replica of one of theirs. It’s kept firmly under lock and key by our security team all year and closely guarded by them during Degree Congregation.

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

Enjoy every minute!


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