16 things that made graduating from Cardiff University so special

I did it. I graduated from Cardiff University with a High Merit in Magazine Journalism, and what a day it was. Unlike my last graduation at The University of Reading where I studied History, this one was a year in the making. The first time around I sat my finals, got my results and was robed and tasseled before I’d even had a chance to finish sipping on my celebratory margarita.

Graduation 2.0 was more of a slow burner which only made the day itself more memorable and special. It’s almost been two whole years since I stepped foot in the Maglab for the first time, and it really does feel like eons ago when I was propelled into the world of Mac computers, voxpops, CMS systems and InDesign. Looking back, it’s hard to remember a time when a slug was a slimy pest you’d find in your garden, when a bleed related to red blood cells and magazines were read for pleasure and not typos. But that change has been a positive one, and one that signifies my steady progress up the journalism ladder.

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Coming back to Cardiff on the train from my first magazine journalism job in London made me realise how much further up the ladder I’d climbed after finishing the course. Since handing in my dissertation at the end of August last year, I’ve interned at Stylist, BA’s High Life magazine, got down to the last few applicants for jobs at some of the UK’s leading women’s glossies, landed my first journalism job in London as an Editorial Intern at Square Up Media, have two published print profile pieces to my name and I’ve interviewed my first celebrity. So, in un-Jessica Phillips style I decided to *gasp* celebrate my little triumphs and enjoy my day. These were my highlights.

1. I traveled back to Cardiff armed with a Caffe Nero hazelnut frappe’ latte and the latest Stylist magazine, and drifted off to my happy place. You can never underestimate the power of a good coffee and an inspiring read.

2. I got my hair done at the Guy Christian salon in Cardiff Bay, and despite not quite breaking the stylist’s brush, it was quite the Princess Diaries hair transformation. I walked in Jessica Phillips and walked out Jessica Jade Phillips, Master of Journalism.

3. I reunited with my family which is always a scream and invariably includes Peroni, watching Friends on repeat and teasing my Dad about his outfit choices.

4. Team Phillips assembled to make sure the day ran as smoothly as possible. Mother Phillips sorted the breakfast. Father Phillips was in charge of the coffee. Sister Phillips maintained the mane. What a dream team.

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5. I had a lovely chat with my Dad on the way to pick up my robe in City Hall about when he graduated from Imperial College London in the 1980s. He told about how his grandmothers traveled all the way from West Wales to see him in his cap and gown. It seemed fitting that mine were doing the same.

6. My Dad and I went for a quick coffee at our go-to coffee shop where I used to meet him on my lunch break in Cardiff. We ordered two lattes at our usual outside table for old times sake.

7. Walking into the Old Library to meet my grandmothers won’t be a memory I’ll forget quickly. I don’t think they could have been prouder if they tried, and I couldn’t have been happier for making them proud.

8. I didn’t fall over whilst graduating. 2 graduations, no falls. Phew.

9. I had a lot of fun throwing my mortarboard after the ceremony and managed to get a few more candid, clumsy and downright awkward photos to add to the family album.

10. All the family headed over to the Bute Building for strawberries and champagne. It was nice to return to where it all began, catch up with the Maglabbers and to see Square Mile magazine being proudly displayed in the magazine rack.

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11. I got to reunite with my Cardiff twin who I spent every waking hour with during my time in the ‘Diff. We spent our days stressing and laughing in the Maglab and our evenings doing just that back home in Roath.

12. Gin cocktails were consumed in The Dock before heading to Bosphorus to eat all the hummus. Despite living in Cardiff on and off for the last eight years I’d never stepped foot in the Turkish restaurant. I can tell you, eight years I’d been missing out.

13. I dragged my sister along to the Maglab reunion drinks and we ended up crying laughing because the journo gang are some of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Thank God for waterproof mascara.

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14. My family bought me the most thoughtful graduation gifts. My sister made me a Peter Pan themed memory box to fill with my London adventures, a personalised champagne bottle, a photo frame and an engraved bookmark. They know me too well.

15. My mother, sister and I went for afternoon tea at the recently renovated Coal Exchange. It was definitely interesting to stuff our faces in a ballroom in a building where the first million pound cheque was signed. You could almost taste interest on the scones.

16. I left Cardiff with a Magazine Journalism MA to my name. Hats off to that.

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