On Friday we were very pleased to acknowledge our newest graduates and welcome them into the very rewarding profession of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. These graduates now join a long lineage of acupuncture professionals, descended from the late and world renowned acupuncturist, Dr.Van Buren who founded our college way back in 1972. Since it’s opening back in the early 70’s, ICOM has graduated around 430 students into this holistic form of medicine.


ICOM graduation class 2014

Class of 2014 – Combined week day and weekend students – the weekend students chose to “gown up” for the ceremony

This year is a very special year for us here at ICOM as 2014 marks the first year we have graduated students from both our week day and weekend courses. Since 1972 ICOM has run a full time week day acupuncture course. However, in 2011 we initiated our first full time weekend course to run along side our traditional week day training. This initiative was in order to better provide students with flexible study options. Therefore, 2014 marks a success in the integration of our two courses.

What happens at an ICOM graduation?

ICOM’s graduation ceremony is somewhat different to the traditional ceremonies held at UK universities. It all begins in the morning when each student is called into the office of Dr.Van Buren one by one to take the ICOM Oriental Medicine vow before the Principal of ICOM, Elio Basagni, and witnessed  by a member of ICOM’s Board.  The graduates are then ready to enter the main ceremony.

Presentation and speeches

East Grinstead Mayor, Nick Hodges

East Grinstead Mayor, Nick Hodges

This year, we were very pleased to have our local Mayor, Nick Hodges with us to officiate at our ceremony. Each student is presented with their graduation certificate, the professional licienciate, by the Mayor and later they can pose for photos taken with him in the beautiful surroundings of the ICOM gardens.

A member of the Governors opens the ceremony by explaining a little about ICOM history and congratulating the graduates.

A big part of ICOM’s charm is due to it’s very warm and ‘family like’ atmosphere. Over the years, the students form a very close bond with their peers. Likewise, the warmth and mutual respect between the students and the teachers are evident too, though at the same time an appropriate level of professionalism is clearly maintained.

This collaborative and supportive relationship helps to provide some of the material for Penny’s speech as she provides short anecdotes and personal memories of each graduate, sharing with the audience the uniqueness of each one along with a few quirky and amusing stories from their days of study.

Next up, Sam speaks about what it means to be an acupuncturist in today’s world and what kind of things the graduates can expect to meet as they embark upon this new chapter beginning in their lives as they set out into the world as fully qualified acupuncture practitioners.

Each student is then called up to the front to receive their licenciate certificate, similar to traditional degree conferring ceremonies.  The sense of pride and achievement is evident on each and every graduate’s face. Studying a subject like acupuncture is demanding and requires strong commitment – each student has had to work extremely hard to succeed in achieving their BSc Hons degree in acupuncture.

Speeches from two students

The ceremony finishes with a speech from the graduate cohort; one student is nominated by their peers to convey their collective experiences and what it has meant to them to be students here at ICOM. However, this year was the first year we had two  graduating cohorts; the weekday and the weekend class groups. Therefore, we now have two speeches, one from each class.

Caroline Graham of the weekend class first gave her speech, in an animated and expressive fashion; her background in theatre and opera came shining through. Caroline did refrain from singing her speech, although we kind of hoped that she might!

The final speech came from Deborah Warden of the weekday course. A hard worker and high achiever, Deborah enjoys strong attention to detail. Deborah made a comprehensive speech, acknowledging all her peers and tutors and what it has meant to her and her group to study at ICOM.

Photo’s on the lawn

On Friday we were blessed with a glorious summer’s afternoon, offering the perfect opportunity for the traditional graduation pictures to be professionally photographed in the ICOM garden.  Each year, dating back to the 1970s, the graduation pictures are hung all along the main staircase and upper hallway of the ICOM building; this is a special place where all visitors, past and present, linger to look at the graduates who have passed through the College.


The traditional throwing of the graduation hat

Tea and cake

In true ICOM tradition, after the photos a lavish buffet is laid on for our graduates and guests. This year we were delighted to receive a very special cake to mark the occasion, donated by one of our current third year students, Quyen Tran. Thanks Queyen, it was delicious!


Quyen’s cake

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