NC’s ‘virtual graduates’ from 2020 and 2021 had a highly-anticipated chance to return to campus for an in-person celebration on October 27.
More than 600 people – including alumni and guests – attended NC’s Virtual Graduate Reunion at the Welland Campus.
While the College celebrated its classes of 2020 and 2021 with highly interactive virtual ceremonies, the celebration offered them an opportunity to gather in the convocation auditorium, cross the stage in their gowns, pose for photos with the College president, and connect with their classmates.
“You are and always will be a special class of graduates. From the unexpected and quick adjustment to fully remote delivery of your programs through to your participation in the College’s first set of fully virtual convocation ceremonies, your Niagara College experience was unlike that of any previous graduating class,” said Kennedy. “I commend you for your resilience, your persistence and your perseverance in times of uncertainty and challenge. These traits will take you far in your careers and serve you well in life.”
Guest speaker Jason Ofield, President, CEO of Bulk Barn, who graduated from NC’s Business – Sales and Marketing program in 2005, spoke about resilience and leadership. He encouraged the recent graduates to adopt a mindset of growth and shared about how he overcame business challenges during the pandemic.
“Find your purpose in life. And, in those moments when life is coming at you, and life will come at you hard … fight back,” he said. “Believe in yourselves and know that you have the ability to accomplish whatever it is you want to.”
Student Administrative Council president Sam Jemison, who graduated from Mechanical Engineering in 2021, also addressed alumni and guests as a ‘virtual graduate.’
“We’ve had the incredible opportunity to not only graduate virtually, but to come back together after seeking out our starting path,” she said. “Sometimes it can be hard to step back and recognize within ourselves the change we’ve undergone to recognize that we’ve broadened our horizons, expanded our perspectives, and forged ourselves into the person we are today.”
Community and Justice Services alumna Emily Gushue, who graduated with honours in June 2021 when she made College history as NC’s 100,000th graduate, also had a chance to address the crowd.
“I enjoyed my time here at Niagara College, both online and virtually, and I’m proud of myself and every one of my peers in the Niagara College community for working through these difficult times,” said Gushue. “We all know it was not easy.”
The Welland resident, who now works as a support provider with Community Living Haldimand, got a surprise after addressing the crowd at the event – a proposal from her partner who appeared on stage, and bent own on one knee, which was met with applause from the audience.
The College cheered on almost 1,200 new graduates who ‘crossed the finish line’ of their college journeys at Fall Convocation on October 28.
President Sean Kennedy addressed the Fall Class of 2022 graduates and guests during two ceremonies, which were held at the Welland Campus and livestreamed. Kennedy spoke of the power of teamwork and encouraged the new graduates to seek opportunities to be part of a team in their workplaces and communities.
“Individual success can be rewarding, but nothing compares to the feeling of being part of a team that has tackled big challenges and gone through adversity together,” he said. “By being a part of a supporting group of people committed to bringing out the best in each other, you can achieve more than you could have imagined.”
“Know that you will always be part of the Niagara College team and our amazing alumni family of more than 100,000 graduates making a difference in communities across our region, province, country and around the world.”
The morning ceremony was dedicated to 534 new graduates from NC’s schools of Allied Health, Nursing and Personal Support Worker, Community Studies, and Justice and Fitness.
The afternoon ceremony celebrated 664 graduating students from the schools of Academic and Liberal Studies; Business and Management; Environment and Horticulture; Culinary Arts; Hospitality and Tourism; Wine, Beer and Spirits; Technology; and Trades.
College recognizes community resident
The College honoured a local resident for his key role in Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games. An Honorary Diploma in Sport Management was conferred upon St. Catharines resident Doug Hamilton during the afternoon ceremony.
The former Olympian and World Champion rower, with a 30-year career as an environmental lawyer, was recognized for his key role in the success of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games, as Chair of the Board.
“Over the past several years, I have worked very closely with many Niagara College staff and students in organizing last summer’s Canada Games,” said Hamilton. “They were fantastic teammates and tremendous contributors to the success of the Games. That makes this honour even more special.”
“We simply cannot overstate how important the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games were for our College community,” said Kennedy. “The experiential opportunities the Games offered to our students from across many program areas were unlike anything we’ve experienced in our College’s history.”