Thousands celebrate and graduate at UFV convocation 2016

University of the Fraser Valley held graduation ceremonies on June 2 and 3

A UFV grad takes a selfie with friends and mascot last week.

A UFV grad takes a selfie with friends and mascot last week.

Families cheered and friends applauded as graduates crossed the stage during four University of the Fraser Valley convocation ceremonies, held June 2 and 3 at Abbotsford Centre.

More than 2,300 students earned more than 2,800 credentials at UFV this year, and many of them gathered to formally celebrate and bask in their moment of glory.

UFV president Mark Evered encouraged the graduates to adhere to the “4 Rs,” after sharing with the audience the sad news that he and his wife Maureen have been grieving the loss of their daughter Andrea for the past year.

“As I told the graduates last year, be rebellious but responsible and respectful. And this year I am adding a fourth R word:  resilience – the ability to spring back, to recover, and to move forward. Because your journey probably hasn’t been, and won’t be, smooth,” Evered said.

“Everyone in this room who has invested in you, who is counting on you, needs you to be resilient. We need you to have the courage and resolve, and the strength of character to carry on, to matter what comes at you. We need you to have grit.”

Student speakers addressed the crowd at each of the four ceremonies.

Bachelor of science graduate and student speaker Josha Ho of Abbotsford spoke about how students are all influenced by their family of origin, but also by the family-like connections they build at UFV.

“You walk into class not knowing what to expect … But eventually, UFV shifts to be a family. You start to pick up quirks from the people you take classes with, and you do things in the same ways that your professors do.”

He told fellow graduates that they needed to bring that sense of family to their next stage in life.

“Gather a family around you that you can rely on and that you can contribute to. In the end this is going to be a mixture of all of your nuclear family, your UFV family, and any others you have.”

UFV awarded honorary doctorates to business titan Luigi Aquilini, lawyer and Paralympian Halldor Bjarnason, artist and activist Linda Frimer, and educator and community leader George Peary.

Several student medals were also awarded.

Kristy Kardos (social work) received the governor general’s gold medal for excellence at the master’s level. Alyssa Zucchet (science) won the governor general’s silver medal, recognizing excellence at the bachelor’s degree level.

Courtney Verbeek (graphic and digital design) was the governor general’s bronze medalist for achievement at the diploma level. And Rebecca Noort (hospitality event planning) was named lieutenant governor’s medal winner for excellence in a certificate program.

Dean’s medalists were: Jessica Walesch (health sciences), Raelynne Schulz (humanities), Sophie Smit (social sciences), and Susan Hunt (professional studies).

Professor Martha Dow (social, cultural, and media studies) received the Teaching Excellence award. The Research Excellence award went to Derek Harnett (physics).

Retiring professor Betty-Joan Traverse (modern languages) received professor emeritus status, and founding librarian Betty Harris was named librarian emeritus.

The Betty Urquhart Community Service award went to Elizabeth Melnick of Elizabeth’s Wildlife Center in Abbotsford.