RMIT’s newest graduates have been honoured in style with an iconic parade through the city of Melbourne, culminating in the University’s biggest ever graduation ceremony.
More than 7,800 graduates – RMIT’s largest ever graduating cohort – celebrated their achievements in front of about 40,000 family members, friends and supporters in a spectacular ceremony at Docklands Stadium.
Among the cohort were 140 doctoral candidates, whose PhD research has made an impact and contributed to our understanding of the world around us.
Vice-Chancellor and President, Martin Bean CBE, told graduates they had all been united by a determination to gain the knowledge and experience to prepare them for life and work.
“No matter how or when you joined us, you all shared a desire to learn and to succeed,” he said.
“You’ve learned about a world of work that is changing faster than at any other point in our history.
“And you’ve learned skills that will prepare you for the many careers you’ll likely have in the next 30, 40 or 50 years of your working lives.”
Encouraging graduates to be fearless in taking their next steps, Martin said their success would not be defined by never stumbling – but by their determination and courage in times of adversity.
“It’s in those moments when everything you’ve learned at RMIT will count,” he said.
“Yes you’ve gained practical skills and you’ve connected with industry. That’s what RMIT has always been about and it’s a fantastic foundation. But you’ve learned so much more.
“And you’ve learned how to work together, how to collaborate, how to form a vision, how to explore and I hope, how to dream.
“So your success will be in your ability to harness those experiences and to draw on them when your path is not clear.”
The day began with RMIT’s iconic Graduation Parade, where thousands of graduands in academic dress formed a procession along Swanston Street – right through the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
Friends, family and the wider community lined the streets as the parade made its way to Federation Square, where graduands heard from Lord Mayor Robert Doyle AC and RMIT Chancellor Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO.
At the graduation ceremony, humanitarian Paris Aristotle AO was awarded an honorary doctorate from RMIT.
Aristotle is the Chief Executive Officer and founding CEO of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Incorporated.
In accepting his Doctor of Social Science Honoris Causa, Aristotle told graduates: “Together we can contribute across diverse fields to ensure Australia is a thriving, prosperous and socially cohesive nation that embraces its responsibilities as an honourable global citizen.
“A country where all of us are treated with respect and fairness regardless of circumstance, faith, status, sexuality or location and regardless of whether we are Indigenous, Australians of many generations or recently settled migrants or refugees.”
This year, across the world – in Australia, Vietnam, Barcelona, Singapore, Shanghai, Jakarta and online – more than 84,000 students from 160 countries chose to study with RMIT.
A precisely choreographed display at the ceremony visualised this global presence, as the flags of those 160 countries were carried on stage by RMIT staff and students.
Aunty Joy Murphy, Wurundjeri Elder and Traditional Owner, gave the Welcome to Country during the Smoking Ceremony.
Ron Murray, the Yarra Yarra Dance group and Malu Kiai Mura Buai were among the performers, as was star pop singer and Australia's representative at Eurovision 2018, Jessica Mauboy, with Melbourne drag queens Polly Filla and Philmah Bocks acting as MCs.
RMIT’s newest graduates join a diverse and far-reaching global network of 400,000 alumni, living and working in more than 130 countries around the globe.
A new virtual community – Network RMIT – will make it even easier for RMIT alumni to connect, share their memories and reach out to each other as they grow their professional networks.
Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean said RMIT’s support for its students continued well beyond their graduation.
“No matter where you go or what you do in the future, RMIT goes with you,” he said.