Skip to main content

UofGH’s Class of 2021 celebrates virtually at Last Lecture

For the 16th annual Last Lecture, the University of Guelph-Humber celebrated more than 1,000 graduating students with an exciting virtual and interactive program.

Last Lecture, held before Convocation, is a chance for graduating students to reflect on their university experience and celebrate their achievements over the past four years. The event is typically held on campus every spring, bringing together students, faculty, stuff and alumni for an evening of awards, speeches and celebration. After unfortunately being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, Last Lecture returned this year with a new virtual format.

This year’s program included an audio timeline of highlights from 2017-2021, video messages, a photo slideshow and digital swag. UofGH faculty and staff also shared memories and congratulatory messages with the graduating class.

Fourth-year Justice Studies student Vic Duarte was this year’s Student Speaker. In a video message, Duarte shared memorable moments from her university experience and applauded her peers for completing an entirely virtual fourth year.

“Being selected as this year's Student Speaker or, as I see it, being given the opportunity to represent a cohort as resilient as ours is an absolute honour,” Duarte said. “It is without a doubt that I say we have transformed the UofGH community for the better, and that we've definitely given a new meaning to the term undergraduate experience. Cheers to the class of 2021.”

Alumni Speaker Steven Lorini, who graduated in 2014 from the Business program and now teaches marketing at Humber College, welcomed students to the UofGH alumni community.

“You're about to enter a new world with so many opportunities and some challenges that have changed the business world because of the pandemic,” Lorini said. “You will learn very quickly in your heart how important this graduation to you will be, especially in this new world post pandemic, which will be yours for the taking after graduation. Congratulations to everyone.”

Honouring award recipients

The virtual celebration also showcased the recipients of two university awards. The Michael Nightingale Community Enrichment Award is awarded to a graduating student who has enhanced the UofGH community and student experience. In a video message, UofGH’s first Vice-Provost and Chief Academic Officer Michael Nightingale (alongside a mini Swoop) presented the award to fourth-year Media and Communication Studies student Megan Roopnarine.

For the Outstanding Mentorship Award, graduating students honour a faculty or staff member for their support and mentorship. Caroline Fabbruzzo, a sessional instructor in the Early Childhood Studies program, was recognized for her continuous support of her students’ success.

While Last Lecture was unable to be held in 2020, UofGH still recognized two award recipients last year for their outstanding contributions. Dalton Beseau received the Michael Nightingale Community Enrichment Award and Dr. Nikki Martyn received the Outstanding Mentorship Award.

We talked to the 2021 and 2020 award recipients about what their award means to them and what message they want to share with UofGH’s graduating class.

Megan Roopnarine, Media and Communication Studies student
Recipient of the 2021 Michael Nightingale Community Enrichment Award

Megan Roopnarine
Photo courtesy of Megan Roopnarine

What does this recognition mean to you?

It's an honor to even be considered for this award. I must have read my acceptance email at least three times before I could process that I actually won! I still remember walking into the Guelph-Humber building for the first time, and I had no idea who I was or what my future held.

I never thought I could be someone who inspired other people, but I've spent the past four years here trying to have a positive impact on others.

It’s an amazing feeling to be recognized for my accomplishments. However, it's an even better feeling knowing I have a supportive group of people who believe in me and believed I deserved an award like this. I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am to be surrounded by individuals at GH who never stopped pushing me to be the best version of myself. 

What clubs/societies/campus activities are you involved in?

  • IGNITE Board of Directors
  • Humber Board of Governors Student Representative
  • Academic Management and Programs (AMAP) Committee Student Representative
  • Student Transition and Resource Team (START) Leader
  • Guelph-Humber Advertising & Marketing Association VP of Communications

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at UofGH? 

One of my favorite memories and something that I miss the most about being on campus was spending my evenings on the second floor of GH catching up on homework, ordering some food and playing board games with a big group of friends. We must have cracked hundreds of jokes and met so many new friendly faces. The best part was that it started as a way to relieve stress from our busy days but turned into an opportunity for us to bond and become so much closer. I'll never forget some of these nights!

Do you have any parting words for the University of Guelph-Humber Class of 2021?

Our worlds turned upside down this past year. Everything we thought we knew, every plan we made and every expectation we had for our last year of university has changed. But in return our strength grew, and we learned resilience, patience and gratitude.

Our time together through all the ups and downs will be remembered through our relationships and the way we made people feel. There are special people we’ve met in this building who we loved, who always motivated us and who have ultimately changed our lives forever.

Challenges will come, and change will always be scary. We have no idea what the future will hold or what life will bring us next. No matter how much we plan, it can all change in seconds. The only thing we can truly plan for is remembering that we can always bet on ourselves. We must believe that we can rise above, that we deserve happiness and success, that we'll spend the rest of our life learning and growing, and we'll be brave enough to trust the process.

It's time for a new chapter in our lives! I'm proud to be in the graduating class of 2021 and that is the legacy that we'll carry forever.

Caroline Fabbruzzo, Early Childhood Studies Sessional Instructor
Recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Mentorship Award

Caroline Fabbruzzo
Photo courtesy of Caroline Fabbruzzo

What does this recognition mean to you? 

The nomination from the students is an honor. Their letters reaffirmed the importance of supporting the ‘whole’ student, not just their academics, by modelling empathy and understanding and being supportive and encouraging.

What is your favourite part about teaching at UofGH? 

The students! Their passion for learning and supporting children and families is contagious. Over the last four years I have observed them learn, reflect, collaborate, face multiple challenges and persevere. They are incredible role models for future generations of early childhood professionals.

Do you have any parting words for the University of Guelph-Humber Class of 2021? 

Graduates of 2021 are an incredibly skilled, passionate and compassionate group, and I encourage them to take chances and embrace the challenges and successes that come with those adventures. In particular, I encourage ECS graduates to use their knowledge, skills and passion to make change—to improve the quality of care, education and services we as early childhood professionals provide to children and families.  

Dalton Beseau, Justice Studies alumnus
Recipient of the 2020 Michael Nightingale Community Enrichment Award

Dalton Beseau

What does this recognition mean to you? 

This recognition is humbling. All of the activities, societies, and clubs for which I engaged were sought only to enhance my learning, meet new people and develop my networks. I never thought I’d be considered for such a prestigious award nor did I think I would receive one. This award is recognition that despite countless late nights, despite numerous events, despite extensive planning and despite much failure, I persevered. And I couldn’t have done it without support from professors, student life facilitators, advisors, my fellow peers, family friends, and my mom. It was a long four years but the experiences I had, the friendships I made and the life-long connections I developed made these four years feel more like one. I am truly honoured to receive this award and thank you, sincerely, to everyone who helped me get here.

What clubs/societies/campus activities were you involved in?

  • Alpha Phi Sigma President
  • Pre-Law Society
  • Student Senator
  • Information Desk Reception Assistant
  • Swoop the Great Horned Owl mascot
  • Justice Studies Full-time Faculty Selection Committee
  • Academic Management and Programs (AMAP) Committee
  • Wrongful Conviction Day Planning Committee
  • Student Senate Caucus

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at UofGH? 

During my time at UofGH, I had the opportunity to participate in a Study Aboard to Costa Rica. John Irwin was the professor on this trip, and he was one of the motivations for choosing this trip as my number one. Fifteen of us travelled across the county in a van which was something I had never done before…and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. Between the activities, including ziplining and snorkeling, as well as the educational components including a visit to the University for Peace, it was a fantastic trip that I still rave about! I wouldn’t have ever gone had UofGH not offered Study Abroad opportunities, and I likely wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t for John—he made this trip an absolute blast!

Do you have any parting words for the University of Guelph-Humber Class of 2021? 

For the Graduating Class of 2021, my advice would be: Enjoy the present. The memories you make now will be the ones you keep forever.

Dr. Nikki Martyn, Early Childhood Studies Program Head
Recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Mentorship Award

Dr. Nikki Martyn

What does this recognition mean to you? 

Receiving this prestigious university award from the students in the Early Childhood Studies program means the world to me. Recognition for your work is always wonderful but when the nomination comes from the students it is phenomenal. It is a great honour to receive this Outstanding Mentorship Award from the students. It warms my heart and fills me with inspiration and gratitude, and I am glad to have been part of their life.

What is your favourite part about teaching at UofGH? 

What is my favourite part of running the ECS program and teaching at the University of Guelph-Humber? That’s easy—the students! Our students are fantastic, thoughtful, empathic, generous and caring people who understand the importance of children and childhood. They take every opportunity to learn, grow and try, which supports their growth as professionals and people, who I have no doubt will impact the world in phenomenal ways. I am excited to see what they will do, and I am humbled to be part of their journey and the ripple effects their life has. It is a true joy for me to be able to learn and spend time with them, and I am humbled and honoured to have received this award from them.

Do you have any parting words for the University of Guelph-Humber Class of 2021? 

This has been a hard year and a difficult way to transition, to end one part of your life and start the new. So much of life feels unknown and uncertain right now and that can make leaving the comfort of the familiar and cozy University of Guelph-Humber feel scary. I want you to know that beginnings are often scary (and exciting) and the first few new steps down a path can feel unsteady. It will become more stable. Your life and path will be more clear as opportunities and experiences present themselves to you. Don’t let fear get in your way. Don’t let it stop you or allow it to make you small. You are beautiful and fantastic and well educated. You will have an incredible life. Go and live it, say yes and accept experiences and opportunities when they present themselves. Sparkle your unique and beautiful authentic you, shine with all of your brightness and inspire the world.