Convocation was back with a bang at the University of the Fraser Valley on June 14 and 15 as graduates celebrated their achievements with their families, friends, and faculty in four ceremonies at the Abbotsford Centre.
A total of 2,617 students graduated this year, with 1,168 of them attending Convocation ceremonies and crossing the stage.
Friends and family cheered, whooped, hollered, and even blew enthusiastically on kazoos to welcome the grads.
Like many events across the world, UFV’s in-person convocation ceremonies were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
UFV President Joanne MacLean told this year’s graduates that they had persevered through stressful experiences while pursuing their education. Not only did they have to complete part of their education remotely because of the pandemic, they also coped with major flooding in the Fraser Valley that disrupted classes in November, 2021.
“You will be remembered for your resolve, your commitment, and the determination you have shown to complete your credentials in the midst of the worst global health crisis in living memory,” MacLean noted. “In addition to the pandemic, you have lived through recent catastrophic flooding in our communities. You have managed layers of adversity and it has not been easy. It has taken determination, your hard work and the support of your professors and friends and family, and it has taken dedication to embracing change and challenge and finding a way forward. And you have done it!”
Student speakers addressed the audience at each of the four ceremonies.
Bachelor of Business Administration grad Kate Fisher, also a Cascade soccer athlete, talked about the benefits of small classes at UFV.
“When I started here in the business program, I knew I had found my place and my passion. I also quickly realized this wasn’t a school where you remained anonymous. The beauty of being at a smaller school that emphasizes smaller class sizes, is that you can get to know your professors and classmates. It creates such a lasting impression and experience when you can build relationships with these people who are so important to your university career.”
Bachelor of Arts grad Danielle Hill shared her fears with the audience, speaking about how three thoughts: feelings of shame, inadequacy, and not living up to her compared ideal of other students, almost prevented her from accepting the honour of speaking at Convocation.
“There are a lot of things that can hold you back in this world, so just make sure you’re not holding yourself back. Find your fourth thought. Find your truth… because it will help unleash your unstoppable power. Today I will gratefully accept my degree, but my real education has been learning what I was capable of,” she said.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree graduate Sushil Dosanjh acknowledged that she and her fellow graduates have been through more than their share of stress as they pursued their credentials during a pandemic.
“I know the past few years have been rough. And not just the normal university-is-so-hard, kind of rough. No. This was the pandemic, torrential weather, heat dome, remote learning, and flooding kind of rough.
“We’ve had to adapt to a whole new way of online learning, which wasn’t easy. There was uncertainty. Yet here we are. We made it. The amount of resilience, dedication, and sheer hard work needed to make it to this point is no minor feat. So, you all deserve a massive round of applause.”
Travis Gingerich, who graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree, told his fellow graduates to hold on to hope.
“In tough times, I have to remind myself to leave room for my own hope. There were some rough experiences in my practicum. There will be more as I begin my new career. In challenging times, I need to remember to allow myself to hope. I’m becoming an educator with the hope that my small impact will somehow empower the next generation.”
The Governor General’s Gold Medal for top student in a master’s degree program went to Alaina Brocklesby of Comox, who earned a Master of Social Work. The Governor General’s Silver Medal for the top bachelor’s degree student went to Heather Kelly of Maple Ridge, who completed a Bachelor of Science. The Governor General’s Bronze Medal for top student from a two-year program went to Rose-Mary Siemens of Abbotsford, who earned a Social Services Worker diploma. The Lieutenant Governor’s Medal went to Natasha Rainkie of Chilliwack, who earned a Bachelor of Education.
Dean’s Medalists were Katelin Long (Education, Community, and Human Development), Katriana Van Woudenberg (Science), Katrina Frankenberger (Health Sciences), Carson Stocker, (Professional Studies), Amanda Enterkin (Integrated Studies), Emily Rettich (Applied and Technical Studies), Nathan Burns (Social Sciences), and Bethany Cannon (Humanities).
UFV presented honorary doctorates to four Canadians who have made a significant contribution to their field and Canadian society: Dr. Jo-ann Archibald, Diane Delves, Peter Dhillon, and Shirley Turcotte.