University of Bristol Undergraduate Welcome Ceremony 2019

University of Bristol Undergraduate Welcome Ceremony 2019

October 22, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Well good evening everybody. Welcome to
the University of Bristol. First and foremost congratulations on
earning a place here. We’re delighted you’ve chosen to come
and study with us. My name is Hugh Brady and I’m the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University. I have overall responsibility for running the University, it’s a bit like a combination between a headmaster
and the Chief-Executive. I’m a physician scientist by training. As some of you can probably tell from my accent,
I am a graduate of University College Dublin of UCD on the neighbouring island in medicine and then my specialty area is nephrology, so kidney disease
dialysis and transplantation. My clinical training was at the
University of Toronto. Most of my academic research career was
at Harvard Medical School and then returned to Dublin as president of UCD
for ten years and saved the very best wine until last, so I took over the reins
at the University of Bristol approximately five years ago to the day, actually when I think of it, and it’s been a real honour. What attracted me to Bristol? Probably many of the attributes of it that attracted you to Bristol. First, having the real pleasure and honour of leading one of the world’s top research universities but equally one of Europe’s leading civic universities and that’s an important characteristic of University of Bristol. For me the University has a unique combination of tradition with individuality and edge
and this wonderful this Great Hall gives you a sense of that tradition and the
people you see on its walls and indeed yourselves give you a sense of the
diversity of our learning community. For over a century, the University has prided
itself in attracting the brightest and best students and staff
from across the globe and virtually all of those students have graduated on the
platform behind me, as you will do in the not-too-distant future. Believe me that
journey goes goes by in the blink of an eye. When you arrived today you should
have received a lapel badge. Expect you to wear it everywhere. It’s a small symbol of your joining our learning community. The badge shows our coat of arms which was granted to the University with its Royal Charter in 1909 and its symbols include the
open book of learning and the ship and castle from the medieval seal of
the city of Bristol. The University mace is here behind me. It is also decorated with those symbols and it was donated to the University to mark our first graduations in 1910 and it will be also on that stage behind me when you graduate. To my mind, the University has a unique and really wonderful personality, really
independent and creative spirit, a true appetite for innovation and for
alternative points of view. Bristol I hope you’ll find is brimming with
vitality and diversity and you’ll find that there’s always something
creative and something different going on. Our teaching, our research-rich curriculum
is designed to challenge you, to stretch you, to encourage you to
broaden your horizons and to discover the reach of your own potential and
through our world-class institutes and academic schools, we seek to break down
barriers, to realize new discoveries and to translate fresh thinking into bold
actions that would benefit everyone. You join the University at an exciting time. We have over the past years launched a range of new initiatives designed to
further enrich and support the student journey. You will, as an example, have the opportunity, not just for that deep dive
into the subject that you’ve chosen but also to engage with our Bristol Futures
curriculum which gives you that opportunity to complement your
disciplinary depth with academic breadth so to broaden your academic experience
and indeed to strengthen your career prospects through a range of innovative
learning opportunities and extracurricular activities. You’ll see major new investments in our supports and infrastructure, examples being the
Residential Life Advisors in halls of residence, the kind of parallel Student Well-being Service based in the academic schools, investments in our buildings, investments in our IT infrastructure and indeed in our sports facilities. Our students are very much at the
heart of our University and we’ll be seeking your advice
over the years ahead on other improvements that we can make. Students are represented at all levels of governance and management
across the University and we listen to your ideas and take them very seriously. Now of course you’ve had lots of advice already I’m sure this week but you’re not going to get out of here without me giving you some. First, just a few words on that
on that transition because most of you, not all of you, but most of
you have come from secondary school into university so that that transition from
secondary education to university. You’re now part of a learning community and the
biggest difference is probably that you’re encouraged to take control of
your own learning. Your tutors, your lecturers and professors are here to
inspire you. They’re here to support you. They’re here to challenge you but one
thing they won’t do is spoon-feed you. It can take time to get used to that new
dynamic but be confident however that your personal tutors and other staff are
here to support you so if you find that academic transition
difficult and it can be difficult please contact them early, talk to them early,
don’t let it drift. There are very few problems that
they haven’t faced before. Across the University, you’ve probably got a flavour for this already, across the University we place great emphasis on the links between teaching
and research. I referred earlier to that research-rich curriculum, so it’s that link, that characteristic of the curriculum that makes a Bristol education profoundly different from that in many other universities. We go to great lengths to embed cutting-edge, world-class research in your learning experience. Now as you well know, knowledge and
technology are advancing faster than ever before and equally most of the complex challenges facing our society and our planet will only be solved through world-class
research and increasingly through multidisciplinary research. So
at Bristol we strive to equip you with the values, with the intellectual
capability and with the technical skills to thrive in that rapidly changing and
advancing world. Your lecturers and professors are world experts in their
fields. They are leading researchers in their fields. They are the individuals who are
writing the latest papers and the latest books and your courses are very deliberately infused with their ideas, their discoveries, their technological breakthroughs. But, as importantly, we give you the opportunity to learn how to research, to learn how to generate new knowledge. You can do that through summer projects.
Some of you will have an opportunity to take an intercalation
research year and the vast majority of you will take a final year research project. And I’d urge you to embrace those opportunities whenever you can because they will be truly transformative over your time at Bristol. Some of you will take to university life undoubtedly
like ducks to water but for probably the majority of you, it does take
time to settle. Some of you will undoubtedly experience some challenges when you’re here. Life has a way of throwing the odd curveball. It may be
family issues it may be a physical or mental health issue, could be financial difficulties. What I would assure you is that you won’t be alone in facing those difficulties. At Bristol there’s always someone to help, both the University and the Students Union have a range, a wide range of services designed to support you through those difficulties and I’d urge you to make good use of them, to engage early and to remember that it is a sign of strength and not weakness
to seek help. During your time at Bristol, you should learn as much outside of the classroom as you will inside. The University and the Students Union offer a
wonderful array of clubs, academic societies, sporting facilities and volunteering
opportunities and again I urge you to explore these, choose one or
two, immerse yourself in them. You’ll learn so much from each other, you should
have great fun doing so and, in many cases, they lead to new friendships that
will truly last a lifetime. To those of you who have arrived at Bristol
with friends already at the University or coming with you to the University, I would encourage you to go out of your way to include those who don’t. Indeed if you leave the University with the same group of friends that you entered with, you’ll have really missed a huge opportunity. To all of you who are from the UK,
I again urge you to make a real effort to welcome and include our
international students. We have the privilege of hosting students from well
over 100 countries. I’d ask you to make them feel welcome but equally to
learn about their countries and their cultures. Use it as an opportunity to
internationalize your experience. Share your aspirations and your dreams and I guarantee you won’t regret it. Even if you’re naturally shy, it’s just worth remembering that most friendships
at universities start with a simple hello and this is slightly corny but
I make no apologies for it. I’m going to ask you just for two minutes,
say hello to the person to your left or to your right, particularly if you’ve
never met them before. Introduce yourself, what you’re studying, what you hope to
get out of Bristol. Ok can I have you back? So, I could have usefully just left the
room and let you at it. But just try that. Just try it every lecture, every seminar, every tutorial, every lab Make that effort say hello to the person
to your left and your right. What is the very worst thing that can happen? You don’t get on, you never have to speak to each
other again but you’d be amazed at the number of simple hellos that lead to a
lifetime friendship. So just please, if there was one thing I’d ask you to do, is to take that on board. Finally I’d encourage you to get to know our
wonderful city. Bristol consistently ranks as one of the
UK’s finest places to live. Unlike traditional campus universities, because we’re not a campus University, we’re a civic university, your lecture theatres, your seminar rooms
and your laboratories are within a stone’s throw literally of a wonderful array of galleries, of
museums, of music venues, theatres, coffee shops, sporting venues
and furthermore we find ourselves partnering with the city increasingly in
new and interesting ways, so many of your degree programs include learning
opportunities with the the city and its cultural institutions, its businesses, its
healthcare organizations to name but a few. Equally the university has innovative research partnerships with the city and
its institutions in areas ranging from transport, telecommunications, all
the way through to population health and of course our students over many decades,
year after year, contribute very significantly to the life of the city
through their volunteering activities and I hope that’s a baton that you’ll
also accept the over the coming year. Our University is no exaggeration to say is
inextricably linked to our city and indeed it’s a package and it is that
package that adds so much to the University of Bristol experience for
both students and indeed staff. So please explore it, get to know it and enjoy it. On that note, we’d like to show you a very short film which features faces who may become familiar to you over the coming months across the city and across the campus and very importantly a
message from Marvin Rees who’s our Mayor of Bristol, so please look at the screen. Welcome to Bristol. Welcome to Bristol University. I’d love to offer a warm welcome to all the students that are coming to Bristol. They’re a huge part of the city’s life, they contribute to the energy, the vibrancy, the creativity, the innovation. All those things that people describe Bristol as being. It’s absolutely an essential part of who we are. What I really love about Bristol is it’s just
so diverse and vibrant. You find food from all parts of the world. If there’s a cuisine you like you can get it here somewhere I promise you. There’s so many things here in Bristol
right on your doorstep. Working together, living together, studying together, it makes it easier for us all to be part of a mixed, diverse, welcoming community. It’s a big city but with a small community feel. You’ll find a really welcoming community who’s really excited about you to be a part of it. So I’d really encourage students to explore
the whole of Bristol. Experience the fullness of what this place has to offer. Not just exploring what there is physically in terms of the parks and the history but the diversity of cultures. 92 languages spoken in Bristol, we talk about 180 countries of origin. For the fullness of your development, interact with the world that is on your doorstep and by doing that, you will become richer yourself but also you’ll make the city richer. I’m a different person to when I first came and it has actually increased my confidence. There’s a really strong focus at the University to promote inclusivity to help all students access their teaching without any barriers. Getting around in Bristol is really easy. There are lots of bus routes and there are
loads of cycle lanes. You’ll never get bored in Bristol because there is so much going on. At the student’s union we have over 400 clubs,
societies and sports clubs. This is a great way for students to engage
in fun activities or organised campaigns for things that they believe in. There are lots of beautiful green spaces in Bristol
to escape the city and it’s really nice to go there and clear your mind. While you’re here, think about your social life, think about your social networks, participate in physical activities, get out in
the city and volunteer. Times are going to be challenging.
That’s what a degree is. But you’re gonna learn so much. This is a fantastic platform and a fantastic opportunity and we as a city will do everything we can to make sure that these are some of the best years of your life. So this week you embark on a journey of personal,
of academic and professional discovery and like all such adventures,
what you get out of it will depend on what you put into it. We look forward to supporting you and guiding you on your journey over the weeks, months
and years ahead. Now in truth I’m really just the warm-up act
here this evening for Hillary so we have a fantastic Students Union at the
University of Bristol which works tirelessly to represent the students of
the University and support students in so many different ways, so I ask
you to give a warm welcome to Hillary who’s going to tell you more about Bristol SU. I forgot I was this short. Now I feel like I’m
peering over to try and see all of you. So first of all let me say welcome to
the University of Bristol. You have all worked so incredibly hard to get here
and you should all be so extremely proud of yourselves. In fact give yourself
another round of applause for getting here and being so successful. This is the start of a journey, a journey that will see you go through ups and downs,
laughter and tears, failures and successes but it will all be worth it.
Before I give you some advice, I should tell you a little bit about myself and why on earth I’m up here giving you a random speech. My name is Hilary and I’m your Undergraduate Education Officer at the Students Union. I was elected back in March to represent
you on all your academic matters, from how you’re taught
and examined to how your experience of education affects your attainment. I work
with six other elected officers, we tend to get called sabs, to represent all
parts of your experience whilst at university. The Students Union, or the SU
which is easier to say, is a place where you’ll find over 400 societies you
can be a part of. The networks which represent identity interest and campaigning groups and me and your six other full-time representatives and
hopefully future friends. Please be our friends, we’re all really nice people. So
three years ago I was sat right where you are, a bit confused on why I’d been
summoned to this big great hall and why there was a shiny pole on the stage and
that I didn’t really know what it was. It turns out to be the University mace, which is a fancy stick that they hold at special events. What I didn’t know then was that it was
signifying a journey that would ultimately change my life. All
of you sitting here today will one day be sitting right where you are again,
feeling the same way you do now which is hopefully proud and relieved to be here
but for the fact that you were able to get a degree because you stayed focused
and worked hard. Now, I don’t want you to think that
university is just about coming here to get a degree, it’s so much more than that. At university is where you find yourself. I came into university not knowing what
the future held for me. I had a vague idea of what I like to do but had no
directional vision of how that would translate into something that I was
passionate about and would enjoy post university. In addition to this,
moving from London to Bristol was a huge culture shock for me,
like the buses taking ages to come, huge culture shock for me, I was not
going to walk. Without being part of societies like the African and Caribbean
Society, being a part of the BME and Widening Participation networks and
really spending time with meeting people that had similar interests, backgrounds
and personalities to me, I wouldn’t have really been able to feel at home and
meet the lifelong friends I now have. Now ,having graduated, I don’t just call
myself a graduate of Bristol but I am now a passionate, committed and educated
woman doing what I love, doing my family proud and making my impact in the world the way I want to. When you look back on your time in university, I hope that you will be able to say that the person you have become is
someone who you like, someone who you can be proud of and someone that is ready to
start the journey they call life the way they want to. Ok that got a bit gushy so we’ll move on to
less gushy stuff. So, I want to give you all some advice as
you start this journey and hope that it will act as a booster for you as you
start university. Firstly set boundaries, organize your time and take control of
your life. Right now is both a time of freedom and commitment for you. You have
the freedom to make your own decisions, forge your own path and do what you want.
It’s easy to go crazy and want to give your time to everything. Take the time
out to try everything you want to try but make sure you don’t over commit
yourself or you’ll burn yourself out. It’s great when you say yes to the
things you want to do but also find the same confidence to be able to say no to
the things you don’t want to do too. Having your own time matters
and you need to take responsibility in making sure that you take that time to
rest and reflect where possible. Secondly, make friends. You are in an exciting
brand-new environment where you are surrounded by people from all walks of
life. As daunting and awkward as the prospect of meeting new people may
seem, it will make your university experience so special. You may not find
your lifelong friends in the first week, month or term but you will find people
that you will experience your memories of university with. The only way to ensure
that this happens is to step out of your comfort zone and get out there and meet people.
The SU has loads of events to make this easier to do. You just need to
show up and there’s lots of free food, please come and eat all the food,
we can’t take it anymore! Thirdly, look after yourself and those around you. University is probably the biggest transition of your life so far, it was for me. The idea of being so independent
was completely alien to me. It is a significant time where you learn so much
about yourself and begin the process of becoming the person you want to be.
As exciting as it says it is important that you take stock of how you are. It’s ok
not to be ok, you don’t have to be put together or completely figured out.
What’s important is that you are taking it all at your own pace and doing what
you need to do to make sure that you are safe and well. Although you’re independent at university, it does not mean that you are alone. Reach out to people if you need support.
The university is always working on making sure that they have
services available for everyone. Be aware of those around you. If someone looks
like they’re struggling or just having a bad day, just be there for them, talk to them,
find an activity you can do together. No one should be left lonely. Making sure everybody’s ok is everybody’s business. Finally get involved and have fun.
Try everything and do what you love. You never know what you’ll end up enjoying. Finding a balance whilst at university is so so important. Don’t allow yourself to bogged down with just studying. I know I
didn’t – spent most of my time partying! Doing something fun outside of university time
will make your time here so special and full of amazing memories. For me being
part of the African Caribbean Society meant I could eat plantain and relax with
people who would become my closest friends. Being involved in the SU, through the
networks, meant that I could represent students on issues I’m super passionate
about and that has led me to doing that full-time and getting paid too, which
is very cool. Getting involved in as many things you can do, will open doors and lead you down a path you may never have anticipated but will be better than you
ever imagined. Don’t let opportunity, and most importantly fun,
pass you by. Okay that was a lot of talking so I better wrap this up.
In short what I’m trying to say is that this will be one of the most impactful
times of your lives. I can’t promise that everything will be smooth or perfect but
I can assure you that it will be whatever you make it. Have fun, look after
yourselves and others. I can’t wait to watch you all thrive as you start this
amazing journey. Feel free to add me on Facebook and follow me on Instagram and Twitter, it’s pretty lit out there. Or you can catch me outside, how about that.
I can’t help it, I’m so sorry. If you ever want to have a chat or vent or ask me
about anything, I’m always happy to talk to you all. Congratulations and again
welcome to Bristol. Thanks Hillary. It just remains for me
to close the event. We have over 7,000 staff of this University and I know I speak for them all when we say we’re delighted that you’ve joined us to study here.
I look forward to seeing you across the campus, across the city over the months
and years ahead and of course eventually to seeing you on this stage at your
graduation and again that time flies. We’re delighted you’re here, welcome to
the University of Bristol family, embrace the opportunities that the
University affords you and above all enjoy your time with us – thank you. Ok guys before you go and Hugh goes,
we’ve made it a tradition to take a selfie with Hugh at our initiation, welcome not initiation, that’s weird, welcome ceremonies, so pull your prettiest or weirdest face if you want
and let’s take a selfie.