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UofGH celebrates Class of 2019 at Convocation
The University of Guelph-Humber recently celebrated its graduating Class of 2019 at Convocation, with nearly 1,000 graduates crossing the stage to receive their new credentials and join the UofGH alumni family.
Held at the Pearson Convention Center, Convocation saw approximately 2,340 guests gathering to celebrate the 1,183 graduating members of the Class of 2019 across three joyous ceremonies over the course of the day. Graduates and guests listened to inspiring speeches from academic leadership and special guests, posed for celebratory selfies with their fellow graduates, and marked the full-circle nature of their UofGH journey by ringing the UofGH Bell that they first heard during Orientation.
“I extend my congratulations to each and every one of our 2019 graduates and their families,” says Dr. John Walsh, vice-provost UofGH.
“With your integrated education and practical work experience, you are uniquely positioned to enter career employment or go on to pursue graduate studies. I wish you much success in your future endeavors.”
During the Convocation ceremonies, eight students were honoured as winners of the prestigious 2019 Vice-Provost Award, presented to the graduating student with the highest cumulative average in each program. This year’s winners were: Priscilla Chou, Psychology; Neve Connolly, Family & Community Social Services; Carina Cordi, Kinesiology; Melissa Dodaro, Early Childhood Studies; Tiffany Farrugia, Justice Studies; Rakhee Kakkar, Business; Emily Tessier, Media Studies; and Christine Ruchlewicz, Justice Studies BAA.
Early Childhood Studies Program Head Dr. Nikki Martyn also received the John Bell Award, a top University of Guelph faculty award that recognizes outstanding contributions to university education.
Convocation guest speakers included award-winning Business instructor Charlie Janthur, Media Studies Program Head Kathy Ullyott, and Media Studies alumna Rachel Leck, who completed her Juris Doctor after graduating before becoming a civil litigator and being appointed part-time Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC).
In her remarks, Leck reflected on her own experience attending UofGH as the mother of two young children, and urged the graduating class to appreciate and maintain the support systems they established while at UofGH.
“My professors and the administration of this University believed that a woman with children was a valued member of the University of Guelph-Humber community who deserved the opportunity to succeed. This changed my life,” she recalled. “Just as having children during my studies added an exciting wrinkle to my academic career and my professional life, it is inevitable that each of you will face challenges that affect your careers, whether it be related to family, sickness or disability, discrimination, financial insecurity, or some other adversity.
“Some days will be harder than you imagined,” she continued. “On those days, remember your champions. Remember that you have people in your corner, and ask for their help, their advice, and their support. You are not alone, and there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. You are worth it.”
A proud accomplishment
For the graduating students, Convocation was a joyful and nostalgic occasion, even as it was tough for some to believe their time at UofGH was really through.
“It feels really surreal,” said Media Studies alum Adam Butzow. “Looking back, I definitely learned a lot more about myself than I thought I would. I went into Media Studies for my schooling, and I came out with a much, much clearer idea of what I want to do with myself in the future.”
Others were similarly looking back at how far they had come.
“It was tough at first, but after getting to know my professors and making friends, I loved it. It was a great experience,” said Amandeep Randhawa, a Justice Studies graduate who planned to celebrate with friends and family. “Four years, it’s a long time.”
Those who missed Convocation or who want to revisit the festivities can still watch streams of the events.
“This is a day the students have all worked so hard to reach, and everyone in attendance shares in their pride and excitement,” said Leah Murdock, Department Head of Student Services, whose team spent months preparing for the event. “It's always a joyful event, and because the ceremony provides a sense of closure on a formative time in the graduates' lives, it can also be a little bittersweet.
“Organizationally, there is a lot of work that goes into making this day happen, and it’s a very long day for UofGH staff but they continue to volunteer year after year to be a part of a milestone in our graduates' lives. Personally, I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to making this day come together.”