SFU Welcomes Back Graduates This Summer With Most Ceremonies Ever Hosted

By Teghan Acres

The last paper has been written, cramming has ceased, exams are submitted… and all that’s left to do is walk across the stage. That is, until a pandemic gets in the way. At universities and high schools around the world, virtual ceremonies became the best option to celebrate the graduation of their students.

This summer, Simon Fraser University has been overjoyed to welcome back their community for the first in-person summer graduation ceremonies in two years. Not only for 2022 SFU graduates, and all students who weren’t able to attend an in-person ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, but also serving as a host site for a record number of local community high school graduates as well. This brings the total number of ceremonies to 26 with an estimated 46,000 graduates and attendees visiting the Burnaby Mountain campus in May and June.

Having so many happy in-person events has been meaningful for students, staff and faculty. Reports cited suffering mental health for teens and young people who missed the chance to celebrate significant milestones in their coming of age. SFU recognized how important it was to bring classmates and their essential support networks to honour all of their hard work and accomplishments.

The Meeting, Event and Conference Services’ (MECS) team, an Ancillary Services unit within the Vice President of Finance and Administration portfolio, was at the forefront of planning for these record number of events and ensuring they were delivered without a logistical hitch. Lynda Hewitt, MECS Director reflects that, “many of us have been preparing for these eight weeks for many months. I have to say, everyone has jumped in with both feet. We all recognized how important these events would be to the participants and the team showed up to deliver outstanding work.”

SFU normally hosts three or four local high school graduations, along with the university convocation ceremonies. This year, we welcomed twelve Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody high schools to celebrate student achievement on the mountain, with over 12,000 students, teachers, staff and loved ones coming together for ceremonies throughout May and June. The planning for these events took a lot of collaboration and Lynda says that “It feels great to see colleagues from different service areas, including many external to SFU, all working towards a goal of creating a memorable in-person event for students. It has been a long time since we have had that kind of energy from hosting events on campus and doing these large-scale ones really pushes us to deliver our absolute best for the community we serve.”

SFU is proud to be the backdrop for so many momentous moments of reconnection and celebration. “We are all so pleased to have in-person events back on our beautiful campus and proud to have helped make graduation day memorable,” says Mark McLaughlin, Chief Commercial Services Officer at Ancillary Services. Mark shares proudly that, “as local high school grads crossed the stage, we heard several had plans to attend SFU in the Fall. It was amazing that here they were, graduating in our Convocation Mall at SFU, with many of them soon starting their next educational journey in the same place!”