ABBOTSFORD – People cheered, airhorns blew, and the occasional cowbell rang out as families and friends gathered at the Abbotsford Centre on June 5 and 6 to celebrate graduates at four University of the Fraser Valley Convocation ceremonies.
More than 2,360 students graduated with more than 2,740 credentials this year, with 1,260 of them attending a ceremony and crossing the stage.
President Joanne MacLean, attending her first ceremonies in her new role, referred back to the community members who helped create UFV as a community college in the 1970s, and then supported its progress through the university college stage and its transformation to a university in 2008.
“It was a collective acceptance of the importance and power of education to drive a thriving, more just society that helped launch the University of the Fraser Valley.
“And this is not where our story ends. The UFV story is still being written. But we have a new chapter and this new chapter is focused on you — our grads. Each of you have your own personal story — your arrival into this world, your progression through primary and high school, and then your acceptance into UFV. Here is where the UFV and your own personal stories intertwine. Where people, education, and communities come together to develop and drive growth and change and possibility.”
Student speakers addressed the crowd at each of the four ceremonies.
“As graduates, we’ve not only studied in classrooms and labs, but we have been students in the laboratory of life,” noted Bachelor of Science graduate Vivienne Beard. “It hasn’t been perfect — some of us have dealt with health problems, others have lost loved ones, and many have needed to juggle the roles of parent, student, and worker. There have been challenges and obstacles to overcome, but there have also been discoveries, friendships, laughter, and more than our share of late nights and early morning classes. Regardless of what our unique journeys have looked like, there is one golden thread common to us all… We have had opportunities to learn and opportunities to grow.”
Construction Electrician certificate grad Scott Thompson recounted how applied programs prepared him and his fellow grads for specific careers.
“This past year has been a battle, but now, doing the job I enjoy makes it all worth it. I’m thrilled that, as an electrician, I get to work with my hands and use technology. I’m excited for many of you who are now able to live out your dreams as future mechanics, chefs, event planners, welders and plumbers. I hope I can speak for most of you when I say that we have chosen trades because we get great satisfaction from a job well done. We have created something tangible that at the end of the day we can look back on and be proud of.”
Bachelor of Child and Youth Care grad Stephanie Park encouraged her fellow grads to rely on their support network as they venture into their post-university lives.
“What I would like to leave you all with today is the message that as individuals, resiliency comes from within but cannot be brought out without the support of caring people in your life. Seek out one person to be ‘your person.’ And as we start to shape the community and the society we live in – I challenge you to go one step further. I challenge you to be that person for someone else. Be their supporter, their mentor, their safety net.”
Bachelor of General Studies grad Sukhi Brar noted that after a difficult time in her life, UFV changed her for the better.
“I came to UFV without a support team and threw myself into campus life. That involvement brought a lot of really amazing people into my life. Time and time again, people have been there for me during the most difficult times in my undergrad degree. Always remember to take the time to take care of one another.”
Chancellor Andy Sidhu, Board of Governors Chair John Pankratz, and MacLean awarded honorary doctorates to Vancouver Sun journalist Kim Bolan, philanthropist Malwinder Dhami, Sto:lo elder and Halqemeylem language preserver Elizabeth Phillips, and Olympic medalist and Canadian national women’s team soccer player Sophie Schmidt.
Jacqueline Strating (Master of Social Work) received the Governor General’s gold medal for excellence at the master’s level. Flora Oswald (Bachelor of Arts) won the Governor General’s silver medal, recognizing excellence at the bachelor’s degree level. Perrin Waldock (Engineering Physics diploma – Mechatronics) was Governor General’s bronze medalist for achievement at the diploma level. And Katherine Palmer(Agriculture) was named Lieutenant Governor’s medal winner for excellence in a certificate program.
Dean’s medalists were: Travis Gingerich (Science), Mia Harries (Health Sciences), Julia Dovey (Humanities), Erin Spielman (General Studies), Aidan Gibbons (Social Sciences), and Jonathan Perry-Enns (Professional Studies).