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Graduation unsung hero: Claudie Combelas

Claudie CombelasThe 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...

Claudie Combelas, Head of Alumni Engagement, External Affairs

Role at graduation: Welcoming over 4,500 graduating students to our worldwide community of 180,000 alumni in 196 countries

My usual job involves…

creating reciprocal, meaningful and relevant relationships with Warwick alumni which offers them opportunities to stay connected and utilise networks and provides benefits to both alumni and the University.

But during graduation week…

I attach pens and leaflets to graduation booklets to let graduands know about 'what's next' and to invite them to come to the marquee, shared by Student Careers and Skills, Alumni Engagement and Le Gusta, to collect their graduate bags, discuss their future careers and enjoy a glass of Pimms.

I also help out the Graduation team in various roles such as foyer team and robing.

I really enjoy working at graduation…

as it enables me to meet and work with colleagues from all over the University to ensure that students and their families have a fabulous time. It is the time of year when collaboration across the University is at its most apparent.

I always go into the ceremony to hear the Vice-Chancellor’s speech and the graduate speaker. As a Warwick alumna, I never cease to find it uplifting.

Graduation week is unique because…

it is a great opportunity to meet alumni and their families at this happy time. Smiley faces, proud parents, beautiful gowns and dresses, sky high heels and excitement in the air. What’s not to like?

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

having more time to talk to students and their families about their experience, and what they are doing next. They have such great stories to tell. Sometimes they are the second or third generation to graduate from Warwick, sometimes they have had to surmount many difficulties to get to this day, but mostly they are just lovely people and we are proud of them too!

I've only just realised that…

It must take hours to stick those labels on the graduation brochures!

Not everyone knows…

what all the colour hoods and shapes of robes are for which faculty and it always gives me great pleasure to explain. That sounds really sad, sorry!

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

Keep in touch.


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