Posted 22 September 2023
For the 2023 Graduation at Harper Adams, two distinguished alumni of the University were invited to address the ceremony.
Both speakers reminisced about their time at Harper to the assembled graduates, friends, family, supporters and guests – and both discussed where their studies have taken them since their own graduation.
The speakers at this year’s ceremonies were Philippa Richmond and Dr Liam Crowley.
Philippa Richmond graduated from Harper Adams University a decade ago, with a first-class honours degree in Veterinary Nursing and Practice Management.
Through connections made at Harper Adams, Philippa was invited to become an editorial board member for The Veterinary Nurse journal and now peer reviews articles for the journal prior to publication.
Her work has led to invites to partake in a round table discussion with the British Veterinary Association on the impacts of parasiticides, and most recently, to become a member of the European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites in UK and Ireland, the first time a veterinary nurse has been asked to join.
Phillipa is an R-SQP (Suitably Qualified Person) who can prescribe and supply certain classes of veterinary medicinal products.
She has particular interests in medical nursing, nurse clinics and research and education and works to encourage and develop others –as a tutor on a critical care course; providing training to a group of 23 veterinary practices on CPR and other nursing topics; as well as working to create and develop OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) stations for Veterinary Nursing undergraduates.
She told the Ceremony: “My time at Harper Adams not only provided me with the skills to begin my career as a veterinary nurse, but also personal skills which have helped me navigate the day-to-day challenges life throws our way.
“I also made friends for life, and through my time in veterinary practice I have had the pleasure of working alongside graduates from various academic years, who I am also pleased to call friends - as well as colleagues.”
Phillipa spoke about her career, including her time at Willows Veterinary Hospital in Cheshire and then at Oakwood Veterinary Referrals, and noted how a desire to learn had remained with her throughout her career so far.
As well as now working to train and encourage others in the profession, Phillipa has continued working to extend her own knowledge, completing her most recent postgraduate qualification earlier this year.
She added: “As you can see my career so far has been diverse, reflecting the variation the veterinary industry has to offer. As graduates you will be faced with many opportunities throughout your chosen careers and Harper Adams will have prepared you, too, for whatever path you choose to follow.
“My time spent at Harper taught me that no matter what our goals and aspirations are, be them personal, professional, or academic - with passion, hard work, and determination we can achieve them.
“I hope in 10 years’ time, when you look back at your time at Harper Adams, that you feel thankful for the opportunities your degree gave you and that you feel as I do, that you wish you could do it all again.”
Dr Liam Crowley is an entomologist who graduated from his Entomology MSc at Harper Adams in 2016.
Interested in interested in insect diversity, taxonomy and ecology, he is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the Darwin Tree of Life project, which seeks to sequence the full genomes of +70,000 UK species.
His work involves the collection, identification and preservation of arthropod species from Wytham Woods, a Site of Special Scientific Interest in Oxfordshire. Thus work prepares the species for full genome sequencing, with a particular focus on species of ecological and evolutionary interest.
Liam describes this role as a ‘dream position’ as it enables him to combine his favourite aspects of entomology, including field work, collection and identification, lab work, teaching and outreach and community engagement.
He told the graduates: “This milestone marks the start of your next journey, whatever direction that may take. My own journey since studying here has been shaped by the experiences I had and the skills that I developed whilst I was here, just as I am sure your own journeys will be.
“Now you could say that I studied here in 2015, but instead I’d like to say that I joined the Harper family in 2015. Because that is what it is like, this unique institution is a bit like the Hotel California - you can check out, but you will never truly leave - because wherever you go, you will always be part of the wider Harper Adams community.”
Discussing his work on the Tree of Life Project, he said: “This exciting project is a large collaboration between several institutions including museums, universities and research organisations and really highlights the necessity, and advantages, of using cutting edge molecular tresearchside-by-side with traditional taxonomy and natural history.
“There is unfortunately a paucity of people in the UK with knowledge in these areas, which for me highlights how valuable and forward-thinking institutions like Harper are, by training future generations of people with applied and specialised skillsets.”
And – as an entomologist – he asked the audience to humour him as he compared the journey of the Harper Adams student - and graduate - to the lifecycle of the Globeskimmer dragonfly, which migrates 6000 kilometres once it emerges from the pools it hatches in.
He added: “Of course, a single little dragonfly couldn’t traverse an entire ocean without a little help.
“Much like the support of the Harper community, almost unseen, the monsoon winds begin to blow, gently lifting and carrying them on, supporting them to achieve their ultimate success.
“So that just leaves me to once again congratulate each and every one of you, and wish you all the best it everything you go on to do.
“If you display the same level of dedication, hard work and perseverance as you did to get here, then I’m sure you, too, will fly far.”