St.Mary’s U: Winter Convocation Celebrates over 300 new Graduates
Saint Mary’s historic McNally building came alive on January 23rd as the University’s newest graduates received their parchments during two separate ceremonies at the University’s Winter Convocation. The ceremonies opened with First Nations drummers from across Canada, providing a welcome to more than 300 graduates and their friends and families.
Saint Mary’s conferred two honorary degrees during the ceremonies, one to Canada’s pre-eminent cosmologist, Dr. Richard Bond; and another to Ms. Colleen Johnston, Group Head Direct Channels, Technology, Marketing and Real Estate at TD Bank Group.
Dr. Bond received a Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, in a morning ceremony for undergraduate and graduate programs in the faculties of Arts and Science. Addressing those assembled for the occasion, he spoke passionately about managing the information flood that is our modern world and urged the Class of 2016 to reason with it rather than being overwhelmed.
“Consciousness is our essential human filter, use your education to find precious signals in the noise,” said Dr. Bond.
Echoing Dr. Bond’s message of understanding the world around us, valedictorian Joy Samuel encouraged her fellow graduates to be thankful on this day of celebration. A graduate of the Bachelor of Environmental Studies program in the Faculty of Arts, Joy filled many volunteer roles during her time at Saint Mary’s, including a term as President of the Environmental Society in 2015. She also built close ties with the University working as a Resident Assistant, Residence Services Officer and Counselling Centre Assistant.
“You take (your) home with you and spread it everywhere,” said Samuel, emphasizing the importance of an international community at Saint Mary’s.
As Valedictorian for the afternoon ceremony for undergraduate and graduate programs in the Sobey School of Business, Amanda Kolwich spoke of the sense of responsibility that comes with knowledge. A management and marketing major, Amanda distinguished herself at Saint Mary’s as a peer mentor, student ambassador, volunteer coordinator, and Vice President of the Saint Mary’s University Student Association. She also chaired Shinerama and volunteered as the Saint Mary’s Relay for Life Coordinator.
“As graduates of Saint Mary’s, we are resilient in the face of hardship,” said Kolwich. “We can take the initiative to change the world. As Jack Layton said, ‘love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic, and we’ll change the world’”.
“Create your own mosaic, live the life that is right for you. You will find your passion,” said Ms. Colleen Johnston, on receiving her Doctor of Commerce, Honoris Causa, at the afternoon ceremony. Addressing Convocation, Dr. Johnston painted an optimistic picture of what lies ahead for the Class of 2016, encouraging our newest graduates to “find ways to reflect and learn from their experiences, set your own course in life.”
In paying tribute to graduates at both the morning and afternoon ceremonies, Saint Mary’s University President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray spoke of the importance of using learning to make the world a better place.
“Education is a gift, the gift of a life of learning. I hope that you will all consider the intersection of arts, sciences and commerce to manage our world in the challenges that we will face” said Dr. Summerby-Murray.
With the help of sign language interpreters provided through the University’s Fred Smithers Centre of Support for Students with Disabilities, Saint Mary’s paid homage to a founding principle of universal access to education.