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Heart-shaped air display for our graduating students

Thursday 25 June 2020

St Catharine’s College has put on a special air display today, high above Cambridge city centre, to celebrate the academic achievements of approximately 140 graduating students. In the absence of the usual graduation traditions this year, the College is signifying its great affection for and enormous pride in its students with a large, heart-shaped vapour trail in the sky.

“On behalf of the entire St Catharine’s community, I am delighted to offer my heartfelt congratulations to our graduating students. Our pride in the successes achieved by our students, in quite exceptional circumstances this year, is today writ large in the sky above Cambridge,” comments Professor Sir Mark Welland, Master of St Catharine’s. “I hope everyone in Cambridge who sees the air display will enjoy this special moment that marks the next chapter in the lives of our students.”

“Graduation is an important milestone for any student ­– and the culmination of many years of hard work by our students, as well as all the support and encouragement that they received from families, friends, our Fellows and staff throughout their time at St Catharine’s. Today is an opportunity to honour our graduating students and celebrate with the wider Cambridge community as a whole during this difficult time,” adds Dr Holly Canuto, Senior Tutor of St Catharine’s.

Credit: Martin Bond, A Cambridge Diary 
Credit: Emma Clang
Credit: Dr River Chen

Today would have been the first in a series of days when St Catharine’s students were expected to come together to graduate at in-person ceremonies this summer. With gatherings across the University of Cambridge postponed until further notice, exceptional measures have been put in place: graduating students will be able to have degrees conferred in their absence (‘in absentia’). As a result, St Catharine’s students who had expected to attend ceremonies on or after 25 June 2020 will still be rewarded with their degrees and will be offered the opportunity to come back to celebrate together at a later date when larger gatherings are possible again.

It is traditional for St Catharine’s students to kick off graduation day by gathering for a group photograph in the historical heart of the College, known as Main Court, before a short walk up King’s Parade to Senate House for the ceremony itself. Today’s air display has been specially commissioned by St Catharine’s to be visible from Main Court and involves a single aircraft, courtesy of local expert Mark Jefferies and the Global Stars flying team based at the airfield in Little Gransden, Cambridgeshire.

The air display accompanies a video message that has been created by the College for graduands.

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