Class of COVID join global celebration with their 'village'

8 February 2021

This year's Grand Graduation ceremony saw 4,000 people gather in-person and virtually, both in Canberra and around the world, to congratulate ANU graduates and thank those who supported them. 

ANU held its first ever Grand Graduation event in 2019, to begin a new University tradition where the whole community can come together to celebrate graduates and their 'village'. 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC joined 600 graduates in Llewellyn Hall, with live-crosses to reception events in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Shanghai and Beijing. Thousands of other people, including students and their family, tuned in online to the events around the world.   

ANU Alumna Sophia Hamblin Wang, who is the Chief Operating Officer of Mineral Carbonation International, was the guest speaker at the Canberra ceremony. 

Hosts of the various events included ANU alumni as well as ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop in Perth.     

ANU alumni former prime minister Kevin Rudd and entrepreneur Thérèse Rein hosted the Brisbane reception. Mr Rudd and Ms Rein met at ANU while they were both studying. Mr Rudd delivered an address to students in Mandarin, with Ms Rein also giving a speech.  

"Today... reflect on your capability, your resilience and your strength," Ms Rein said. 

Professor Schmidt said the hybrid event, which is part in-person and part virtual, was the first-of-its-kind for the University during the pandemic, in terms of scale and reach. 

He said celebrating the achievements of more than 6,000 people who graduated in 2020 with a big ceremony was important, particularly following the most challenging year of people's lives.     

"While it is easy to bemoan the fact that you have finished your degree in a year of such global uncertainty, remember - the whole world has experienced upheaval and change," Professor Schmidt told graduates at the ceremony. 

"But you are lucky - your ANU degree will provide an even greater level of support for your future aspirations. Attending one of the world's great universities is an experience many wish they could have, but you have lived." 

ANU Chancellor, the Hon Julie Bishop, congratulated the class of 2020 with a live-cross from Perth. 

"We salute your courage, resilience and strength - this is a remarkable day for you, never forget this feeling of achievement," Ms Bishop said. 

Watch a recording of the Grand Graduation ceremony online: