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2019 graduates encouraged to be bold and ambitious by honorary degree recipients

Posted 25 September

"We’re at a time of incredible change in all of the subjects you have been studying, and yours is the unparalleled opportunity to address the problems the world is facing." David Fursdon

four honorary degree graduates in academic dress

Owen Brennan, Anna-May McHugh, David Fursdon and Han Lujia

Be ambitious, never doubt your abilities, spread your wings and make the most of all opportunities presented to you – those were the key messages from four industry leaders presented with honorary degrees by Harper Adams University at Graduation 2019.

Devenish Group Executive Chairman, Owen Brennan OBE was the first to be honoured, at the morning ceremony. “Be ambitious,” was his advice to the graduands he went on to congratulation individually as they crossed the stage. “I think people should all be very ambitious and take really seriously what it is they can do and be ever more open to all of the new experiences that will inevitably come their way.”

He added “Receiving an honorary degree makes me feel more part of Harper Adams. I already felt part of the university but this formalised it in a way I was not expecting. I was surprised but am very proud.”

The afternoon ceremony welcomed three honorary degree recipients.

Among them was ‘Queen of the Plough’, Anna-May McHugh, honoured for her life-long work for the National Ploughing Association (NPA), during which she has been instrumental in growing the annual National Ploughing Championships in to Europe’s largest outdoor agricultural trade exhibition.

Mrs McHugh’s advice to the graduates was: “Be very positive and never doubt your own ability. If they have graduated they have studied hard here and studied before they came here so they should look forward. There are plenty of opportunities for people who have been educated. Whatever direction you go in, convince yourself that you are able to do it… that’s what I did when I took up the position of secretary of our Irish Ploughing Association. I said ‘I will keep going, I’ll keep adding new attractions’ and I did. And later I became the managing director.

David Fursdon, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, had a career spanning 30 years in agriculture and rural property to reflect on as he gave his advice.

 “Don’t underestimate what you can do. We have all got some things we are better at than others and if we focus on the things that we enjoy we are more likely to be successful. We’re at a time of incredible change in all of the subjects you have been studying, and yours is the unparalleled opportunity to address the problems the world is facing.”

Dean of the College of Engineering at China Agricultural University, Professor Han Luija was the final recipient of an honorary following an almost 25-year relationship with Harper Adams.  She wanted to impress the importance of an internationally focused mind set.

She said: “Studying in an international environment is something that will greatly benefit your future and it is so useful to learn about different cultures, social lives and languages. We’re all one family, you need to study happy and live happy.”

All four honorary graduates expressed how pleasantly surprised they were to receive their degrees and said they were proud to share the occasion with the 700 graduating students.

Read more about the all four here.

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