By Chloe Ilsley

After several years of not being able to celebrate our graduates and their achievements, this year we were finally able to do so! On 21st July 2022, the Psychology Student Experience Team hosted the Finalist Party, and all graduates were invited from 2020 – 2022.

The Finalist Party took place the morning of the Class of 2022 graduation ceremony. It was a great day for celebration as the sun was shining and the sky was clear, this was perfect for the garden party theme. The Meeting House and its unforgettable colourful windows were the backdrop to the party. We wanted our Finalists to see the iconic building for one last time as we know it’ll be an image they will remember from Sussex for years to come.

The Meeting House Lawns had various places to enjoy the celebration, whether that was taking up a game of Jenga on one of the picnic blankets or sitting on the brightly coloured square sofas nestled under the trees. The gentle breeze moved the colourful pompoms and streamers in the trees overhead.

The meeting house lawns was the perfect setting for the garden party theme.

The months of planning were rewarded by seeing beautifully dressed students with their families and friends, hearing them laugh and share stories with one another. It’s a special moment to share with students and one we don’t take for granted. It’s been a long time since campus has been a place for events like this so it’s great to see it again and we already look forward to the next one.

The party was attended by many faculty members, excited to see their students after a few months of working together on research projects. Head of School, Robin Banerjee, shared some words with the attendees, and from this, you could see how proud he was of everyone stood in front of him. Robin was thrilled to announce this year’s finalist prize winners to the crowd as it was the first year in a few that he was able to award these in-person.

Double prize winner, Alessandra Giuliani shared her thoughts on winning the prestigious awards and explained how a specific event had inspired the idea for her prize-winning dissertation which explores issues around street harassment:

The idea for my dissertation project, stemmed from an actual situation. I was in my second year when the case of Sarah Everard happened. Being a psychology student, I was interested to know what psychological factors lead someone to perpetrate street harassment acts as those can lead to more severe crimes.

Surprisingly, I noticed that the current literature mainly focused on street harassment’s consequences on the victim and not on the perpetrators. Therefore, I started reading about potential factors that could predispose someone to street harass women. Drawing from other research areas, I tested and found that cognitive empathy and social dominance orientation are linked to one’s acceptance of street harassment behaviours.

I did not know we could get awarded prizes at the end of our degree. It was a delightful discovery for me since having your job recognized is extremely rewarding.

During my third year, I genuinely felt overwhelmed by it all and I did not think I would have reached a first-class mark in my dissertation project. This demonstrates that winning a prize is within everyone’s reach as long as you work consistently.

Awarding students is a beautiful initiative as it makes us feel that our hard work does not go unnoticed.

Alessandra accepting her prize from our Head of School, Professor Robin Banerjee.
Alessandra accepting her prize from our Head of School, Robin Banerjee.

Another of our prize-winners, Wesley Wong, also expressed his delight at having been awarded the Allison Jolly Prize for the Best Final Year Project in Comparative Psychology:

I am really happy and honoured on winning the Allison Jolly prize. It felt like hard work really pay off in the end, but I couldn’t have done this without the tremendous support from my dissertation supervisor Dr Sarah King and academic supervisor Prof Martin Yeomans. So, a massive thanks to both of them for supporting me through my study. I am genuinely very interested in topics related to mental health. Therefore, I chose anxiety as my dissertation topic. The area of research aims to develop anxiolytic drugs with fewer side effects, and my dissertation evaluated the physiological effects produced by a developing anxiolytic drug – compound X. The result shows that compound X is effective as a non-sedative anxiolytic drug.

Wesley accepting his certificate with Project Supervisor, Sarah King
Wesley accepting his certificate from Project Supervisor, Sarah King.

It was wonderful hearing from Robin about all of the prize-winners and we congratulate them all. The winning projects cover an array of topics within Psychology, ranging from Criminology, Developmental, Mental Health & Wellbeing and more. The range of projects demonstrates that at Sussex, students can be recognised for their work from any psychological discipline.

Elouisa Huitson, the Student Experience Officer for Psychology Student Experience shared:

It was lovely to see the prize winners colleting their certificate and enjoying the event with their family before heading to graduation. Thanks to all of the students who attended, we wish you all the best!

graduates and staff celebrating together at the party.
Graduates and staff celebrating together at the finalists’ party.

It has been years since we’ve been able to host celebration events so this year will always be held as extra special. We’re really proud of all our students, as beginning a degree during a pandemic isn’t what you’d envisage when applying for University but instead of letting it phase them, you all embraced change and achieved your goals anyway!

Go over to our instagram to see the mini blog the team have put together of the event!


About the Author:

Chloe Ilsley, Student Experience Coordinator.

Chloe works within the School of Psychology’s Student Experience Team. She is a recent BSc Psychology with Education Graduate from the class of 2020.





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