Being late paid off for Gloria Mawete, after a last-minute dash to her graduation ceremony meant she unwittingly became the University of Leicester’s final graduate of its Centenary.
After being delayed setting off from her London home, the 21-year-old Geography student was in danger of missing her big day at De Montfort Hall, last Friday July 22.
But her anxious journey north to Leicester left her with just enough time to grab a robe and a mortar board and arrive halfway through the ceremony – which meant she had to wait until the end to receive her degree.
This meant Gloria made University of Leicester history, by becoming the final graduate of the institution’s first 100 years.
“It wasn’t the ideal entrance,” said Gloria. “I ended up hobbling from campus to De Montfort Hall in my heels, leaning on my sister, Cassandra, for support, thinking I was going to pass out.
“I was just relieved to have made the ceremony, and I had no idea it meant I would be the final student of the centenary. It feels a bit weird, and amazing too, to know I’ve made a bit of history.”
Looking back on her three years in Leicester, Gloria, who comes from Camden, felt she grew as a person during her time in the East Midlands.
“I’ve loved it here, but it was a tricky start for me,” she said. “I was fresh into uni and it took some time to get used to taking constructive criticism, from my tutor, Dr Margaret Byron.
“But I soon grew to appreciate that she was pushing me, to try to help me develop. I needed that, and she was completely supportive of me over the three years. She had my back, and got the very best out of me. She looked out for me and I’ll always be thankful for that.”
With her degree under her belt, Gloria is determined to get more young women considering a career in Geography.
She said: “I’m going to do a PGCE teaching qualification, because I want to become a geography teacher at secondary school level.
“It’s an important subject, particularly with climate change and global politics having such an impact on our future.
“There’s not enough people of colour, and especially women, considering geography as an option, and I want to make them realise it’s a massively underrated subject. You can do so much with a geography degree.”
While Gloria was the final graduate of the University’s first century, the very first didn’t actually graduate until 1958 – more than three decades after the institution’s formation in 1922.
Wendy Hickling was amongst those who had spent three years studying at University College Leicester, before receiving their degrees in the first graduation ceremony of the newly established Leicester University.