Famous(?) for her alleged sexual relationship with US president Bill Clinton, the former White House intern Monica Lewinsky received her masters of Science degree in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics last week at an impressive but quietly dignified ceremony. She has now joined the ranks of the famous and powerful alumni who went on to become presidents, like KR Narayanan, prime ministers, Nobel Laureates.
Cherie Blair and Mick Jagger are also past students. LSE can also justifiably boast about those who taught there, like Harold Laski and Amartya Sen.
Sources said that 32-year-old Lewinsky, who joined the course in September last year costing £12000, became emotional when other graduates and their parents cheered her. She completed a thesis "In Search of the Impartial Juror: An exploration of the third person effect and pre-trial publicity" and is in the look-out for a job in this country, according to her publicist.
She may work in London or not, but Lewinsky will be remembered for long by the LSE students and recent alumni who too were studying last year. The media and the students who were to start studies last year had got excited the moment it became known that she was to study at LSE. Jokes were coined and for quite a few months the media sleuths trailed her wherever she went.
An Indian post-graduate student had told HT that they all got excited when they were informed by the Quad student union's entertainment manager that he invited her and she had accepted to come to the welcome party and had emailed saying "she's excited about the new term".
But even before she landed in London a report came out saying, "As the first students arrive before term starts, they will find themselves rubbing shoulders with the woman who brought a whole new meaning to the word 'internship'." Miss Lewinsky, now 32, obtained a psychology degree in the United States before going to the White House as a 22-year-old intern in 1995 - and starting the affair that led to Clinton's impeachment in 1998. In London she will be studying for a post-graduate masters course in social psychology."
It was claimed that she left New York with a tin of English spotted dick pudding (reportedly given to her as a present) and a parting comment to friends: "Maybe I will meet my husband there and have some kids."
The reported hunt for a husband had led to many students mockingly saying they were walking in the campus handcuffed, were to be "married" or were "attached". One Michele D'Ambrosia from Milan, 24, studying for masters in economics, exclaimed "Oh my God! No please," when told she was in flight for London to join LSE. The then secretary of the LSE students' union, Rishi Madlani, 23, had sternly rebuked when asked about her, saying he was holding a serious position.
Female students warned Lewinsky that the LSE did not always meet with their expectations of its female students. One had written in the student newspaper, "I have not seen a glimmer of sexual impulse in anyone's eyes. I think our LSE boys are too serious for that." But one Natalie Black, 22, last year's hockey club captain, was reported to have advised, that the key to happiness might be athletic union nights in the Three Tuns student bar on Wednesdays. "It's general carnage, a lot of fun, drunken sportsmen singing appalling songs," explained Miss Black. "Very English, though they might not be the best marriage prospects."
But whatever it be, Lewinsky has apparently not found a husband so far but could when she gets a job. There are many who would feel privileged to secure her a good position.
Take for instance George Galloway, MP. Once addressing students at the London School of Economics he said, "I made my joke about the 'special relationship' between the US and the British government being the same as the special relationship between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton. It turns out Miss Lewinsky [an LSE student] was in the audience. I apologise!"
But Galloway is always there to help. Ms Lewinsky has achieved what usually has been achieved at LSE by those who went to make a mark in their lives, like for instance Krishna Menon. And as one source said LSE admitted Lewinsky because of her US academic record and not because of her record at White House.
If things get too exhausting, the former presidential mistress can escape to the Beaver's Retreat. It's the bar on the fourth floor of the LSE's old building. (The LSE's coat of arms, you see, is adorned with the figure of a beaver, chosen, a spokesman assured us, because of its "foresight, constructiveness and industrious behaviour". It is a non-smoking bar; no cigars allowed!) Ms Lewinsky will be building on her degree in psychology from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and is likely to be paying £12,000 for her British degree. She is expected to begin her degree next month.
There will be plenty of fellow Americans at the London University, which draws more than half its students from abroad (63% in 2004). Last year there were 935 US students out of a total of 5,439 international students from 125 countries.
President Clinton gave a lecture at LSE in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, but rumours that his daughter, Chelsea, was bored at Oxford and wanted to switch to the London institution proved unfounded.
LSE's Institute of Social Psychology boasts one of the largest concentrations of social psychologists in Europe, with 13 members of staff and more than 100 graduate students enrolled.
The institute's broad project is "to understand, through theoretical development and empirical research, the social processes that emerge at the intersection between the individual and wider societal contexts," states its website.
It adds, "Our research and teaching focuses on organisational behaviour and dynamics, risk in society, communication multiculturalism and discrimination, individual and social health and the community, decision taking and the social production of knowledge."
One of the leading lights at the institute, George Gaskell, lists a special research interest in "risk and trust" - a field Ms Lewinsky might well have opinions on.