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October 7, 2010

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By Diane Mar-Nicolle

As a staff Convocation volunteer, it is a privilege for me to take part in a ceremony laden with ritual and representative of the crowning achievement for many of the thousands of graduating students. To witness the excitement of families, the shy pride of the graduates and the smiles of faculty and staff is inspirational. University graduation is often the end of student life and the beginning of true adulthood and professional careers. I won’t forget the day that I also walked down those steps to Convocation Mall. It felt like the world was waiting to welcome the newfound skills and knowledge of my entire graduating class. Since then, a few have gone on to change the world in a very public way, while the rest of the class has changed the world incrementally, by standing up for injustice, rallying against corruption and bigotry and voting with our brains. Most importantly, we have passed on our respect for learning and education to the next generation. We have impressed upon our children the value of a degree from a Canadian university, how it says much about how you think, who you are and what you value. It says that you have discipline, perseverance, intelligence, ambition and most importantly, the ability to analyze critically and to read and write with ease. It says you didn’t choose to go to school to train for a job, but to learn how to think.

Every time I pin a hood on a gown, or hand out a parchment, I say "congratulations, well done" and I sincerely mean it. I cannot take credit for having anything to do with the graduates’ education or upbringing, but I’m nonetheless pleased for every one of them and gratified to work at an institution that so ably helped educate them. Being part of this ceremony restores my hope that our generation is leaving the world in capable hands. By and large, it is these graduates who will shape the future, making the world better, rather than making it worse. On convocation day in particular, you can’t help but be proud for what these graduates have achieved and for all that they have yet to do. Well done, Class of 2010.

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