Spring Convocation 2012
High energy and deep emotion filled Mount Royal University’s Triple Gym during Convocation ceremonies on May 31 and June 1, 2012.
More than 1,080 graduates crossed the stage before proud family and friends as, for the first time, Convocation was divided into three ceremonies.
There were other firsts at Convocation, including the first graduates to receive Mount Royal University bachelor’s degrees in four programs: Bachelor of Communication — Information Design; Bachelor of Science — Cellular and Molecular Biology; Bachelor of Science — Geology; and Bachelor of Science — Health Science.
There was also the first sighting of a homemade, Canadian Idol-style sign, cheering on a Nursing grad during the afternoon ceremony on June 1.
And, University President David Docherty — soon to celebrate his first anniversary at Mount Royal — neatly summed up Convocation during the June 1 ceremony by saying, “This is a fun day — it’s a happy day.”
Audiences at all three Convocation ceremonies obviously shared that sentiment and enthusiastically applauded, waved, whistled and cheered as graduates crossed the stage to shake hands with a beaming Docherty.
One grad crossing the stage on May 31 was accompanied by the blare of an air horn, followed by startled laughter from the crowd.
Honouring faculty excellence
Mount Royal presented both a Professor Emeritus award and a Professor Emerita award during these Convocation ceremonies. Bestowed by Mount Royal’s General Faculties Council, these awards recognize retired faculty members for significant contributions and exceptional service.
On June 1, Jean Jarrell received the award in recognition of her 41-year career with the Department of Physical Education and Recreation Studies.
“Jean makes it her personal goal to get to know the students that walk into her classroom each semester,” said Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Robin Fisher as he announced the award.
“More specifically, she makes a point to know each and every name and the interests of her students.”
Robert Bragg was presented with the Professor Emeritus award during the May 31 ceremony in recognition of his distinguished career in the Faculty of Communication Studies.
Once again the award was presented by Robin Fisher, who said Bragg’s 12-year teaching career at Mount Royal “exemplifies excellence in teaching and learning.”
“[Robert] brought his experience in the work force into the classroom to teach and engage the next generation of journalists in what students have called ‘exciting and engaging classroom discussions’.”
A surprise salute
Fisher also made a spontaneous departure from the script during the June 1 morning ceremony to recognize the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Manuel Mertin, who is retiring after a 38-year career with Mount Royal.
Fisher went on to say there is no better recognition of Mertin’s “amazing and outstanding” contributions to Mount Royal than the Bachelor of Arts graduates who crossed the stage during the ceremony.
At the end of Fisher’s comments, Mertin received a standing ovation from the graduates and from the Platform Party.
Honouring scholastic excellence
At the June 1 ceremonies, Governor General’s academic medals were presented to two Mount Royal University graduates. These prestigious medals recognize the outstanding scholastic achievements of Canadian students graduating with the highest grade point averages in diploma and degree programs at approved colleges and universities.
Dawn Negus is the 2012 Governor General’s Collegiate Bronze medal recipient. An active volunteer with Mount Royal’s Transitional Vocational Program and with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Negus graduated from Mount Royal’s Social Work Diploma program with an outstanding 4.0 grade point average.
Gregory Klemmensen received the Governor General’s Academic Silver medal, which is awarded to an undergraduate degree student with the highest grade point average. Klemmensen graduated from the Bachelor of Arts — Criminal Justice program with a 3.97 grade point average.
Honouring an outstanding citizen
At the May 31 ceremony, two special presentations were made. Mount Royal’s Professor Emeritus award was presented to Robert Bragg in recognition of his distinguished career in the Faculty of Communication Studies.
The award was presented on behalf of Mount Royal’s General Faculties Council by Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Robin Fisher. He explained that the award recognizes retired faculty members for significant contributions and exceptional service.
“Having worked at Mount Royal for 12 years, Robert exemplifies excellence in teaching and learning,” Fisher said.
“He [also] brought his experience in the work force into the classroom to teach and engage the next generation of journalists in what students have called ‘exciting and engaging classroom discussions’.”
Fisher next bestowed an honorary Bachelor of Business Administration on Calgary business leader and philanthropist, David Bissett, for his outstanding contributions and connection to Mount Royal, and for his dedication to building a stronger community for the betterment of society.
Bissett began his remarks with, “It’s wonderful day – I get to be called Dr. Bissett for at least half of it.”
He described Convocation as the beginning of a learning curve that never ends, and went on to share numerous lessons he has learned during his successful career in the financial services industry.
His first lesson: don’t make enemies on purpose, because you’ll make enough by mistake.
His final tip centred on the importance of self-recognition.
“Introverts are successful in some things and extroverts are successful in other things,” Bissett said. “You have to realize who you are, first of all, and what capacity you have. If it isn’t sufficient for the job at hand, you have to adapt.”
A troika of Valedictorians
During her speech at the afternoon ceremony on June 1, Valedictorian Tessa Brown confessed that, at first, she was at a complete loss when trying to write a message for the grad class of 2012.
“How was I going to get up in front of a room full of amazing people who I’m certain have their own amazing messages to share?” recalls Brown, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.
She turned to Google for inspiration; then YouTube; then her friends. Ultimately, she was inspired by a quote from William Wordsworth: “The world is too much with us.”
“It is so easy for life to become all about how we can improve that everything else gets lost,” Brown told her fellow grads. “Yes … goals are good and yes, we need them if we want to accomplish anything. But sometimes life becomes so much about goals and that constant nagging question: ‘What’s next?’ that we miss what is right in front of us.
“So if you wake up for long enough to hear one thing in this entire speech, let it be this: take this time to be proud, relax and cherish what you have accomplished,” Brown said.
“Enjoy today and excel tomorrow.”
Bachelor of Arts graduate Kelsey Moskal spoke at the morning ceremony on June 1. In a speech full of humour — as well as references to The Lord of the Rings and other movies — Moskal asked her fellow graduates to consider the question, “How can we make our mark on the world?”
After admitting that she has no idea of how to answer that question, Moskal went on to provide several solid suggestions.
“If you haven’t done it already, think about the thing you are most passionate about, and find a way to turn it into a career,” Moskal said.
She concluded by quoting famous movie pirate Captain Hector Barbossa: “You’re off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters.”
Moskal continued, “I say it to all of you now: here, today, we’re walking off the edge of the map into a world full of unknowns.
“Have the courage to embrace the potential inherent in such a world and know that you have the strength to achieve your goals — and that anything is possible, if only you’re willing to take a chance to make it happen.”
The Valedictorian for the May 31 ceremony was Collin Semenoff, a graduate of the Bachelor of Communication — Information Design program.
His speech focused on themes of reflection and transformation.
“Even though Mount Royal University will always remain a significant part of who we are, we can't help but recognize the fact that our relationships with it and many of the people we came to know here will change — but change is ultimately the reason we came to Mount Royal,” Semenoff said.
“Graduates — I ask you to recognize today that each of us has just proven we have the power to take control of our own lives. We have the strength, the resolve and the supports necessary to become something better than what we once were.
“With that in mind, I urge you to remember the efforts others made in that journey and to occasionally take stock of opportunities that may exist for you to help others in a similar manner in the future.
Semenoff was also presented with the Centennial Medal, which was established in 2011 to mark 100 years of student academic achievement and leadership at Mount Royal University.
The Centennial Medal is presented at each June Convocation to the student graduating from a Mount Royal University degree program who simultaneously demonstrates academic excellence and leadership in campus and/or community activities.
— Nancy Cope, June 1, 2012