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Grand Marshall 2007

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Proud ‘pied piper’ gives back to studentschmilar_grand_marshall

Jim Chmilar, custodial coordinator, has guided students to graduation for the last 29 years — literally.

Each year, Chmilar is the Convocation Grand Marshall and has the daunting task of ensuring more than 700 excited students on the verge of freedom make it across the stage to receive their parchments. It is not a task for the faint of heart, but Chmilar feels it is one of his most important roles at the College.

“It’s the students’ big day,” says Chmilar. “I work so much behind-the-scenes here — it’s wonderful to be able to see them all in one room being recognized for their achievements.”

The Grand Marshall leads the procession of graduates from one area of the College, where they don their gowns and line up according to program, to the Triple Gym, where their friends and family anxiously await with cameras in hand.

"That's my favourite part, leading them into the main gym, led by the bag piper,” he says. “What a moment.”

Chmilar’s fondest memories of Convocation include meeting some of the Alumni of Distinction award recipients, including the Honorable Norman Kwong, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, and country star Paul Brandt.

“It's great to be able to see what our grads achieve after they leave us,” says Chmilar. “It shows how many of them go on to do great things.”

After many years of experience, the dedicated volunteer has some words of wisdom to share with the rest of the Mount Royal community.

“I think everyone should get involved in Convocation at least once — it’s such a meaningful day and really, that’s why we’re all here — for the students.”