6 awesome university mottos worth adopting as your own

Sometimes, the best words of encouragement lie in the most surprising of places. This time, we found some when reading up on university mottos.

Here are some inspiring ones to write down and motivate yourself with when the going gets tough!

Acadia University, Canada: In pulvere vinces

Translated: In dust you conquer/From dust we rise[i]

Acadia University’s stirring motto talks about how effort (the soot denoting hard work) takes you places. The motto, according to online repository NovaMuse[ii], recognizes the pioneering efforts of the university’s founders, who built the university’s original College Hall with trees felled along a hill in Horton (now Wolfville), Nova Scotia.

Keep this motto in mind as you go about your day and let it give you a boost of energy! All the times struggling up your school’s steep pavements and many stairs won’t be in vain!

La Trobe University, Australia: Qui cherche trouve

Translated: Whoever seeks shall find

One of Australia’s pioneering universities, La Trobe University’s motto is a modern version of the La Trobe family’s armorial bearing (‘who seeks shall find’ in Occitan).

It makes an interesting motto: while it describes the journey of learning and reaching the desired outcome, it also makes room for the possibility of how, in the words of La Trobe University’s emeritus professor John S. Gregory, “what one actually finds is rarely exactly what one seeks or hopes for”[iii]. Bear this in mind as you navigate your academic journey and life: enjoy the journey and always be prepared for outcomes you do not expect!

Inspired by their motto, La Trobe University created a game called Discover La Trobe. For the curious, it can be found on both the Google Play Store and the App Store!

University of Southampton, the UK: Strenuis ardua cedunt

Translated: The heights yield to endeavour

Pretty straightforward, the University of Southampton’s motto reminds its students and us that hard work and persistence plays a great part in success. A good TED talk to follow, for those interested, is psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth’s on grit. She also has published a book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, on the subject. So don’t give up just yet!

University of Zulia, Venezuela: post nubila phoebus

Translated: After the clouds, (comes) the sun

Life will always throw us some curveballs that we feel are too heavy to bear, and the University of Zulia has a motto to keep us going. We’re unsure if the motto also refers to the quest of knowledge bringing forth clarity, but we sure do appreciate the reminder that there is always light at the end of the tunnel—the exam period or a particularly difficult assignment, in this case.

George Stephenson College (Durham University, the UK):  me quondam mirabitur orbis

Translated: One day I shall astonish the world

These are words from George Stephenson, the ‘Father of Railways’, who penned them down in a letter to his contemporary. The college chose these words in the hopes that ‘each and every one of [its] students will, at some time and in their own way, astonish the world’[iv], a sentiment we think is worth adopting. Write it down and make it your life’s goal, or something to strive toward: it may be a long way yet, but you will make a difference and leave a legacy.

Norwich University, the USA: I will try

Short, but oh so sweet! America’s oldest private military college, Norwich University’s motto was most likely inspired by Colonel James Miller of New Hampshire, who led the 21st Infantry Regiment in the capture of the British artillery at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. When losing the motivation and strength to finish that Final Year thesis, arm yourself with a soldier’s fortitude and tell yourself determinedly that ‘I will try’. To boost your morale, here’s a playlist we’ve assembled to help.

Bonus (It’s not a school!)

Liverpool F.C.: You’ll Never Walk Alone

Football followers and Liverpool fans will know the significance of this motto, which are affixed in wrought iron above the gates of the club’s Anfield stadium. Part of a song from the musical Carousel (1945) that was made popular through a cover from Gerry and the Pacemakers, the signature anthem sends chills down many people’s spines when sung before every home match.

While it might not have the same magnitude of impact singing it yourself, consider making it your project group’s or CCA’s anthem or slogan! No matter how challenging the task is, you guys will have each other. Hopefully, this will foster a stronger team spirit.

With so many universities, clubs, and societies out there, there’s plenty more of these mottos to explore. When you feel in need of some wise words, do a quick search and see if any call out to you! You might just find your dream university this way, who knows?

Happy searching!



[i] Acadia University Viewbook 2010

[ii] http://www.novamuse.ca/Detail/objects/11690

[iii] In Building LaTrobe University, 1989

[iv] https://www.dur.ac.uk/stephenson/about/story/


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