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Honorary Graduate's Speech: Professor Dame Julia Higgins FRS CBE, Doctor of  Science (DSc)

Professor of Polymer Science, Imperial College, London, Dame Julia's honorary degree was awarded for her contribution to science and the promotion of programmes for women in science. Dame Julia is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. As Chairman of the Athena project, a UK-wide initiative that aims to advance women in science, engineering and technology in higher education, she is seen as a role model for younger women considering a career in science. She received her honorary degree on Wednesday, July 10 during the afternoon degree ceremony. After the degree ceremony oration, she gave the following response.

One doesnít always get the opportunity to reply on such occasions and I am very grateful that I do today because I want to thank the University very much indeed for the honour that was just conferred on me.

I spent a wonderful morning meeting some old friends among colleagues and making new friends and seeing some of the science that is going on here and I am looking forward to being part of this enterprise in the future as an honorary graduate. [addresses to new graduates] But today is yours - sitting in front of me here, as the Vice Chancellor has already said.

You are to be congratulated on what you have achieved and itís a day to enjoy with all of your parents - and you have already applauded them - they have suffered with you for the four years, theyíve enjoyed the success and now theyíve reached the triumph of Degree Day and I think thatís great.

Not unnaturally do you stand here and listen to your life unfolding before you - in very flattering terms may I say. You look back, or I have looked back myself to my own Degree Day, my first degree and my DPhil at Oxford, that was over a third of a century ago. Itís a long time and I was thinking about what I felt at the time.

I knew nothing about all of those opportunities that were going to happen before me.  What I had were two degrees and the skills and expertise that those had given me and an openness to the opportunities that were going to come, and I think that is where you are today. You have your qualifications, you have three to four years of expert work, youíve studied, youíve achieved much and the world is open before you with all the opportunities it is going to offer and you donít know what they are. The one thing you must do is take those opportunities when they come and I am sure you are going to do that. The world's your oyster and I hope you are going to take it and do with it what you can. Well done.  

July 2002

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Last updated: 8 July 2002 17:00
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