By Anna Maguire |

Graduation season is upon us! Whether you’re graduating from your doctorate or eagerly anticipating the day when your thesis is finished, this time of the academic year marks a moment of transition, for undergrads and postgrads alike. Fittingly, this is my final post for Pubs and Publications and tomorrow, I graduate.

This is the third time round for me. It’s also the final step in the PhD process. Handing the completed thesis to the examination office was a slightly perfunctory and bureaucratic experience – they really should hand out gold stars, lollipops or balloons. It was quickly followed by the accumulated exhaustion of the final weeks and the novel sensation of not having much to do – all in all a bit of an anti-climax. The viva was a blur: anxiety, adrenaline, and relief. But graduation should be a stress-free celebration. There’s no last-minute paperwork or tough questions, but the opportunity to step back and reflect on your accomplishments. This is the end of the journey that has taken you from being a first-year undergraduate, learning basic disciplinary tools, to an expert in your field and being a doctor.

So friends, it’s time to decide what sort of graduate you’re going to be, whether you’re about to cross the stage yourself or indulging in some daydreaming to get you to that place. And where better to draw your inspiration than your favourite film and movie characters?


  • Zach Siler, She’s All That

First off, for those of you who haven’t seen this classic late nineties high school riff on Pygmalion or My Fair Lady, I would highly recommend it. Zach’s approach to graduation not so much – nudity on stage when collecting your doctorate might slightly undermine the significance of your achievement. But you’re clearly a playful individual. You’ve made the most of your remaining time as a student and played as hard as you’ve worked. You’ve also taken the time, though, to think about your role as a colleague and how to support your peers the best way you possibly can.


  • Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

“I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life.”

You have not had the most traditional path to your PhD. Maybe you came to it after some time away from academia; you had to fight for your project to be accepted or you’re crossing disciplinary boundaries and you’ve struggled to find your place. But you’ve got passion and perseverance and you bring a fresh perspective and energy to everything you do. Oh, and brilliant hair, obvs.


  • Rory Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

“I live in two worlds. One is a world of books…. It’s a rewarding world, but my second one is by far superior. My second one is populated with characters slightly less eccentric but supremely real, made of flesh and bone, full of love, who are my ultimate inspiration for everything.”

In academia, you feel you have found your home. Your childhood world of books has become your adult world of work. You have a tendency to put too much pressure on yourself and to overcommit. During the PhD, you have learnt to collaborate and enjoy the community of academia. But you also know there’s a life beyond work and that you have to lift your head from the books every now and then.


  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Oz: We survived.

Buffy: It was a hell of a battle.

Oz: Not the battle. High School.

You’re coming out swinging. You’re ready to face the challenges of the job market, to fight against academic casualization, to take on REF and TEF. It’s been a rollercoaster ride – you’ve not exactly been on top of a “Hellmouth” – but rejections, peer-review and deadlines have taken their toll. But with the help of the Scooby gang and your trusty librarian Watcher (a reminder to never forget how important archivists and librarians are!) you’ve made it through and you are ready to slay.



Anna Maguire is currently updating her pop culture references and memes in preparation for a new teaching post at King’s College London. This is her final post as Contributions Editor. You can find her on Twitter


Image 1 – Graduate, cbdme, Public Domain