Graduation Day — with a taste of Latin America (and ice cream)

The Lownds family spent three fascinating years living in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, from 2003 to 2006. During their time there they travelled through Brazil, Argentina and Chile, leaving indelible images in their memories from Salvador and Recife on Brazil’s northeast coast down to the cities of Ushuaia and Punta Arenas in Patagonia – following in Darwin’s footsteps through the Beagle Channel and rounding Cape Horn in the process.  The Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas is therefore a firm family favourite – and the natural place to gather in Brighton ahead of the University of Sussex’s Summer 2019 School of Life Sciences graduation ceremony on 22 July.

After a pleasant lunch spent catching up with Harry’s flatmates his family and a few close friends made their way down to the Brighton Centre where the graduation ceremony was taking place.  There they joined hundreds of students and their families there to celebrate their academic achievements and to witness them receiving their degree certificates from the University’s Chancellor, actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, who shook Graduands warmly by the hand, hugged and danced with them.  

At the end of the ceremony comes the point where posthumous awards are conferred on students who have died before they have concluded their studies.  Harry was in his final semester at Sussex studying for a BSc in Genetics when he died suddenly and unexpectedly.  But by that point he had already submitted his dissertation (you can read it here) and amassed sufficient course credits to graduate.  The University therefore decided to award him an ‘Unclassified Honours – Aegrotat’ degree; these are awarded very rarely to students who have demonstrated ‘higher level academic achievement’ but who have been unable to conclude their final examinations due to serious illness or death.  Harry was given a standing ovation by the Faculty and Graduands as his Dad, Matthew, collected his degree certificate – a very, very proud moment for his family.  A video clip of the brief, but very moving, ceremony can be seen here.

After the formalities had concluded the new Sussex Graduates and their families spilled out of the Brighton Centre into a gloriously sunny summer evening – enjoying ice creams and cooling drinks along the sea front. 

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