Scots graduates celebrate degree by being “door-stepped” by photographers


Graduating students from the University of St Andrews are being ‘door-stepped’ by official photographers this week as part of their virtual degree celebrations.

The students, whose degrees will be conferred virtually this summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will be captured at home, from a safe distance, from Monday 27 July to Friday 31 July, as they officially become graduates of the University.

The ‘isolation-creation’ initiative was the brainchild of the Graduation 2020 remote creative team, who developed the idea after being inspired by creative, socially distanced photography projects, such as the doorstep photography of Glasgow-based Caroline Weiss.

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Jake Leitch (right) with mother Jacqueline Leitch with masks

Caroline will capture Glasgow student Alexandra McNicol at home with her family, while London-based student photographer Toby Lowenstein will visit graduand Zoë Nengite in Kent.

The remaining students will be captured with socially distanced photo shoots on their doorsteps in Edinburgh, Arbroath, Kirkcaldy, St Andrews and the surrounding area by University photographer Gayle McIntyre.

It is hoped that while only a small group of Scottish-domiciled students could be featured, the Class of 2020 students around the world will take part with their own doorstep photo shoots and share them via social media.

Three of the students featured in the celebrations include prize winners Morgan Brooke-Johnson and Zoë Nengite, who will receive the Principal’s Medal this year, as well as Fife Provost Prize winner, Laura Paterson.

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Sophie Tyler Gavin Sandford with Piper Sarah Lamorte

They are joined by new Students’ Association President Dan Marshall and staff members Becky Ballantyne and Alice Haworth, who have juggled workloads and family life alongside their part-time degree studies.

Last week, in her first socially distanced trip back to the office in seventeen weeks, Becky helped pack and post her fellow graduating students degree certificates.

The soon-to-be graduates featured in the campaign, which will be shared on the University’s Instagram channel, are from Dundee, Leeds, Kirkcaldy, Lancashire, London, Belfast, York, New York, Glasgow and Ghana.

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Students’ Association President Dan Marshall

As part of the project, the group was asked to share their memories of being a student at St Andrews, and what they will miss most about the Fife town. They were also asked how they felt about the pandemic and remote learning, and how they think recent global events have shaped the Class of 2020.

Gemma Crowe, 23, from Dundee, who graduates this week with a first class MA (Honours) in Mathematics, said: “I don’t think anyone could have predicted how abruptly our time at St Andrews would come to an end, and I think the enormity?of recent events has made us all stop and think about how we live our lives.

“Looking forward, I hope that all us graduates can help in some way to shape a better future.”

Jake Leitch, 22, from Kirkcaldy, who will graduate with an MA (Honours) in Social Anthropology, added: “We all took the University for granted, as a place that was, is and will be there for everyone.

“Given the recent situation, I think we have all become more aware of the family – chosen or blood – that we have, and the support that they can offer us and we can offer them.”

Alice Evans, 22, will be conferred her first-class MA (Honours) degree in Management whilst in quarantine in St Andrews, having just returned from the US where she has spent the summer with her family in Colorado.

Outgoing Chancellor’s Piper Sarah Lamorte will make a special final appearance by piping in the streets for the St Andrews-based students as they celebrate at home with their families and flatmates.

The ‘Doorstep Saints’ will be joined virtually by more than 1900 students from around the world being officially conferred their degrees online all this week.

It is hoped that the photographs taken will form part of an exhibition during Graduation Week next year in St Andrews.

The Class of 2020 will return to St Andrews to take part in graduation ceremonies and celebrate with friends and family in person in June next year.