When I left school at 18, I wasn’t ever sure that I would find a suitable replacement for the home I had belonged to for seven happy years of my childhood. In my recent graduation ceremony, Lord Seb Coe addressed this issue to myself, my fellow classmates and hundreds of other friends and family members.
The newly installed Chancellor of Loughborough University spoke of the human need to “seek emotional anchorage”. Whether it is to our homes, our communities, our sports clubs or our places of education, we desire to “fit in” and to feel valued by the environment that surrounds us. As Lord Coe spoke of Loughborough as one of his fundamental anchors, it really resonated with me that I had acquired that same sense of attachment.
Graduation Week itself went by in a flash. From receiving my certificate on Tuesday morning, it seemed not five minutes until we were walking home from Grad Ball in the early hours of Saturday morning. A few small highlights stick out in my mind. Firstly, the sheer panic of a couple of newly-appointed graduates when they lost their degree certificates moments after receiving them. Secondly, girls in beautiful dresses and high heels running to Grad Ball wearing Sainsbury’s bags on their heads to protect them from the monsoon rain. And of course, last but not least, clambering fully-gowned onto a friend’s shoulders to spot my beautiful Nanna who was lost in the dense graduation crowds.
From moving into Telford Hall (room 1D.06) in September 2013, to sleeping on a roundabout in Calais, to Telford Day on the 17th of May, to six months on exchange at the University of Western Australia, to working for the English Institute of Sport in an Olympic year, to having 220 pints of home brew as present for my 22nd birthday party, to collectively raising over £20,000 for RSBC by driving to Croatia in a £375 Honda Civic, to graduating in July 2017 – it’s fair to say Loughborough has been pretty great.
However, above all of these experiences and memories, I will remember something greater from my time here. As expressed poignantly in our leaver’s video “we will move on from here with bigger minds and even bigger hearts”. Walking through campus I loved knowing that there would always be someone to say a jolly hello to, and there was nothing better than walking into your home after a long, cold winter’s day to hear a housemate cheerily chime “who wants a cup of tea?” The fantastic people are what makes Loughborough tick, and the lifelong friends are what the place will always mean to me.