The Brandon University alumni rolls add a long list of new and distinguished names today, as 569 new graduates are officially conferred their BU degrees at Convocation.
“Today marks a milestone for our graduates, an exciting moment where they receive community recognition for their incredible achievements, as well as the Brandon University degree that they’ll carry with pride forever,” said BU President Dr. David Docherty. “Everyone at BU is cheering them on, celebrating their perseverance and persistence through this past year, and wishing we could be there to give them a standing ovation in person.”
Although the traditional in-person Convocation ceremony is impossible to hold due to pandemic restrictions, the celebration has moved online, with personal touches like yard signs and cap-and-gown rentals available for graduates to mark the moment at home.
Those magic moments are also included in a special video Convocation, pre-recorded and now ready for streaming online at BrandonU.ca/Convocation.
Graduates, along with their friends and family, are invited to cue up the video portion of Convocation at their convenience, and they can return to it whenever they like. During the video, BU’s new Chancellor officially confers their degrees and grads will also hear words of wisdom from their peers and award recipients.
The pre-recorded video Convocation was filmed on a closed set following Covid-safe protocols. Many of the submissions were provided from peoples’ homes. A significant portion of the video is devoted to celebrating each graduate individually. BU Registrar Andrea McDaniel reads out their name, along with the awards and honours they’ve earned.
“Creating a Covid-safe Convocation ceremony has been a challenge, but it also gave us an opportunity to delve into what makes this moment so meaningful, and why it is important to celebrate,” McDaniel said. “It’s about the graduates, their accomplishments and their futures, and we have refocused Convocation to celebrate each of them individually as much as possible.”
New this year, Brandon University is also able to celebrate a valedictorian from each school and faculty, with the Faculty of Health Studies choosing a pair of co-valedictorians and bringing it to a total of six.
Valedictorians, who are chosen for their academic excellence as well as their overall contributions to campus and community, bring greetings to their fellow graduates as well as a hopeful outlook at the future they will all share along with their brand-new knowledge and credentials.
“Graduates, every end has a new beginning,” said Faculty of Education valedictorian Nicole Turner, addressing her classmates. “When we leave here today, celebrate what you have accomplished, but look forward with an eye toward how you, too, can be the inspiration for others.”
Graduates also heard words of wisdom from longtime professor Dr. Meir Serfaty, who recently retired after more than 40 years’ service to the university and who received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Your success in life will always be the result of your own efforts but it will owe enormously to how well you learn from others and how resilient you are to events that will invariably arise in your life,” said Dr. Serfaty, as he thanked the many people who had helped him and challenged him over the decades. “Not only are recognition and gratitude good habits to develop, but I believe that as a constant reminder of our interdepence with others, they will also help keep you, in your own life, centered, focused, and even happier.”
Two honorary degrees were also bestowed at Convocation. Legendary Canadian entertainer and philanthropist Tom Jackson, as well as Manitoba’s top doctor and leader of the pandemic response, Dr. Brent Roussin, were each conferred honorary doctorates.
And, in her first official duties as Brandon University’s new Chancellor, Senator Mary Jane McCallum officially presided over the entire Convocation, including the conferral of degrees. In her greetings to graduates, she reminded them that learning is itself a ceremony.
“When we look at the privilege of studying and gaining knowledge in a university setting… it may be viewed as picking up a sacred bundle,” said Chancellor McCallum. “The bundle contains in it what you need to fulfill your life work — to learn life skills, to fight for Mother Earth, to fight for social justice. At this time, mine contains gratitude, spirituality, compassion, courage, integrity, peace, and voice…. It is through these tools in our sacred bundles that we are granted the strength and fortitude to overcome life’s many challenges.”
The Convocation video ceremony is posted online at BrandonU.ca/Convocation, and it will remain online perpetually for graduates, their friends, and their families to return to as often as they like.
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