Neelima Fernandes


Diploma in Strategy and Innovation


United Kingdom





By Neelima Fernandes

From the revolving doors of Saïd, to the high ceilings of the Sheldonian…

A quest for the holy grail:
It finally happened, as we paraded out of the grand Sheldonian Theatre, as proud Oxfordians…holding our heads high, keeping our dreams alive and taking a bow to the sacred temple of knowledge. As we looked up into the bright blue sky and the grandeur of the architecture which engulfed us, it was a sign, that we were on the right path.

The end of the big fact hunt: The part of me that reminisced about the good times we had during the course, didn’t want this to end but the part of me that witnessed a mildly stressed-out me, around the same time last year, wanted this to be over and done with.

The rite of passage: Days before graduation-day arrived, the excitement was that akin to a little girl in a candy store, waiting to pick up her favourite candy, with the greatest pride and joy. In an adult world, surely that sentence translates to, being acknowledged by the world’s most renowned university, that I have well and truly demonstrated that I know a fair bit about business Strategy & Innovation.

Shackled by the desire to learn: It all began when a desire evoked in me to pursue an education, leading to an idea that sparked in my head to keep abreast of current industry practices and to walk into a parallel world of academia and continued learning (you might argue that an article spewed by Google or an HBR subscription, may have done the trick :)), and Oxford presented such an opportunity for me to see it through.

The ranking: University of Oxford needs no introduction and the quality of output, needs no validation. If it wasn’t for Oxford, I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have been inspired to juggle between work and family life, for a second best university. I take pride in my work and when it comes to education, second best simply won’t do.

…and then it arrived. The day when we all were going to be recognised for our effort, for our unrelenting ambition and long hours of burying our noses into books, (the Oxford comma) and strolling around libraries like it was our second home. I had no doubt that this remarkable day would be a combination of an intellectually stimulating ceremony and a bedazzled audience.

The Sheldonian blitz: When I read a book, my imagination is way stronger than the author intends it to be. Similarly, when I imagined what graduation day would look like, it was nothing short of top notch…but the reality of the ceremonious glitz, blew me away. The Sheldonian experience is one that will be etched in my family’s memory, for many years to come. What a brilliant way to graduate and walk into the world with a sense of pride and achievement, feeling ten feet tall.

High tea under a Marquee: The ceremony itself was understated yet poignant, simple yet elegant. The spread at high tea was delicate yet soul- satisfyingly delicious.

G-DAY, a sacrosanct affair: So the day finally arrived and we all were dressed for one last time in our sub-fuscs, the dress code that we adhered to, during our exams all of last year. The sense of relief and the excitement amongst us graduates, was palpable. We were over the moon to share this experience with our families. It was a logical end, to a year’s worth of books, hardship and dedication.

Paparazzi fam: A memory made, a degree earned and an example set. When I watched my offspring snapping away, as soon as my name was announced, that moment right there, was a beautiful and long-lasting memory woven, for my two little ones. What more could anyone really ask for. Age is just a number and the level of education you aspire to, is relative. Nevertheless, invest in yourself, reap the benefits of a long lasting bond with your cohort, leverage on the unending networking contacts, treat yourself to an enriched experience and continue the enlightened existence.

One big blur: Until you see the smile on your well-wisher’s face and a genuine message sent to your inbox, congratulating you on your achievement, it doesn’t really sink in. You can undermine it as much as you wish to but the truth is etched on that piece of paper, the title that you alone own for life. The truth is, that you’ve achieved something, irrespective of anyone else wanting to achieve it. The truth is, you’ve raised the bar, for yourself. The truth is, you’ve inspired many more who would love to take this path. The truth is, that you are spun from a different fabric, to be able to juggle a million things on top of your studies. The truth is that, you all are a class apart!

A celebratory tipple: Here’s a toast to my fellow Oxfordians, who probably know how to work hard but haven’t really found the time to revel in what they’ve achieved in the last 18 months. Au revoir my peeps!


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