Principal's Medal George Cherry

Presented by Professor Dame Sally Mapstone DBE, FRSE

Tuesday 14 June - morning ceremony

I should now like to introduce the Principal’s Medal. This award was inaugurated thirteen years ago with a gift from three anonymous donors and is supported by Ede and Ravenscroft, believed to be the oldest firm of tailors and robe-makers in the world. The award of the Principal’s Medal recognises students who display exceptional endeavour and achievement during their time at St Andrews. The awards are open to final-year undergraduates and postgraduates in any discipline, and the achievements celebrated are both academic and extra-curricular.

For the academic year 2021 to 2022, the Principal’s Medal is being awarded to two outstanding students. Today we recognise George Cherry, who has just received the degree of Master of Mathematics with Honours.

George is, first and foremost, a formidable scholar. In the thirty modules she completed at St Andrews, all but one received a first-class mark, and she graduates as one of the foremost students of her cohort. George made the Dean’s List for outstanding academic achievement in each year of study, is described by her nominator as an outstanding and ‘typically ambitious’ student, and has further served her School as one of three student maths ambassadors since 2019. I am delighted that George will continue her ambitious theoretical enquiries as a doctoral student at the University of Oslo from September onwards.

Such academic attainment is significant in itself, but George is a polymath of Renaissance proportions – combining a huge work ethic with substantial natural talent that enables her to excel at all to which she turns her hand. The most prominent of these is music, and it is no overstatement to say that George is a student of breathtaking skill. George is our University’s foremost student pianist: she has been a University Piano Scholar since the commencement of her studies in 2018, and she regularly performs at major University events. I have had the pleasure of experiencing this and can attest that George’s talents are unforgettable. George also held a Brass Scholarship from 2020 to 2021, recognising her additional talent for trumpet playing, and these are by no means the only instruments that she has mastered.

Alongside working as a piano tutor at the Nite Piano School in Glasgow, George is a formidable leader of musical life in our town – organising or directing events since her first days in St Andrews. During lockdown, George musical-directed, via Zoom, an adaptation of Mamma Mia, coordinating a 16-piece band and 25-person cast over two weeks of quarantine in 2019, for no reason other than to sustain a love for performance at a time of separation. Eased Covid restrictions have since enabled George to return to in-person directing, including a production of Sweeney Todd in St Andrews which she conducted and musical directed last semester. Her last project was one of equal accomplishment and ambition: a four-hour musical performance on four adjacent pianos of Simeon ten Holt’s Canto Ostinato, delivered by twelve student pianists in the Laidlaw Music Centre, which George conceived and directed.

George is also an accomplished professional photographer and sportsperson. She has competed internationally with Oxford City Boat Club, and she was a member of the women’s first rugby team at St Andrews for two years. In taking in all of these attainments, and her very many others, George’s nominator concludes that ‘the talent, commitment, and achievement shown by George only comes around once in a generation.’ As Principal, I could not agree more. 

George, in recognition of your superlative accomplishments both academically and personally during your time as an undergraduate, it gives me great pleasure to bestow upon you the Principal’s Medal. 

Professor Sally Mapstone presenting George Cherry with the Principal's Medal