Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins inspired graduates at the University of Stirling’s Winter Graduation today (Friday 21 November), while also saying she "should have gone to Stirling".
Mary Perkins received the award of Doctor of the University in recognition of her outstanding contribution to retailing and championing the role of women in business. Also honoured was leading Scottish charity figure Paul Dumbleton, along with more than 700 students who graduated over the course of two ceremonies at the University’s Stirling campus.
Today’s honorary degree is not the only connection between the University of Stirling and the Perkins family, with Mary’s son John, now Managing Director of Specsavers, having previously graduated with an MBA in Retailing.
Speaking to graduates from schools of Arts and Humanities, Management, Sport and Applied Social Sciences, Mary Perkins encouraged the Stirling graduates to set audacious goals in their future careers and to work to achieve them through stamina and staying power.
Perkins, who was last year was identified as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, also had a particular message for the University’s female graduates, advising them to "translate your academic talents into confidence in the workplace and remember that you’re more than capable of competing on an equal footing with your male colleagues".
She concluded by saying: "I’m extremely proud to be recognised today, more than anything I have had before; I’m very, very proud. I should’ve gone to Stirling!"
In the afternoon ceremony, Paul Dumbleton received the award of Master of Arts in recognition of his outstanding contribution to charitable organisations in Stirling and Scotland. Paul is ex-Chief Executive Officer of PLUS, a Stirling-based charity for children and young people with disabilities.
Paul, a local resident and Stirling alumnus said: "I’m honoured to share this day with you and especially thrilled to be honoured by my ‘home’ University".
Speaking to graduates from the Schools of Health Sciences, Education and Natural Sciences, he also encouraged them to consider a career in the voluntary sector, describing how PLUS has "provided volunteering and employment opportunities for generations of Stirling students and benefited from their energy and enthusiasm".
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