Convocation 2007! – Conclusion

This is the conclusion of a special three-part Voice report on Athabasca University’s 2007 Convocation, which took place June 7, 8, and 9. The Voice offers its warmest congratulations to all this year’s graduates!

As hard as it was to believe, the final day of convocation 2007 had arrived, and it was time to award the final degrees to this year’s graduating class.

There was a different sense of excitement in the air for the final day of ceremonies: not just the anticipation of the day’s graduates, but also the sense of looking forward; of marking the final moments of one phase and the beginning moments of another.

The ceremonies began with the sound of bagpipes as piper Kara Hryckowian led the procession into the tent. The program was shorter for the final day of ceremonies, but there were still some very memorable events scheduled.

Today, as on the previous days, Joy Romero welcomed the graduates, academics, and guests. But she not only addressed them in her capacity as Chair of AU’s Governing Council: she also addressed them as a fellow graduate, because she too would be receiving her Master of Business Administration degree a little later in the ceremonies. Exchanging a proud smile with the other grads, she concluded her remarks by congratulating the class of 2007, and saying ?Here’s to us!?

She then introduced Dave Chatters, retired MP Westlock ? St. Paul constituency. He offered well wishes to the graduates from the Canadian government, and noted that it was a special pleasure for him to be present to see long-time friend Della McLean inducted to the Order of Athabasca University. She sat as a public member of the Governing Council from 1997 to 2000, and continues to support AU through contributions of art and culture.

Following the induction ceremony, it was time to begin the awarding of the degrees:

Master of Business Administration
Bachelor of Administration
Bachelor of Commerce
Bachelor of Management
Bachelor of Health Administration
Bachelor of Human Resources and Labour Relations

Once again, the diversity that AU’s distance education provides was clear. The graduates listed their homes in places that spanned the globe: Nairobi, Kenya; New York, USA; Heidelberg, Germany; and Hamilton, Bermuda, just to name a few.

They also hailed from places all across Canada, from Campbell River, B.C., to Iqaluit, Nunavut, to Richibucto Road, New Brunswick.

The bios that were read also revealed the opportunities that are open to students while they study at AU. One student studied while spending time in Bosnia, and with NATO in Kabul, Afghanistan. Another graduate was lucky enough to have completed his final exams in Milan during fashion week–definitely not something he’d be able to do at a traditional bricks-and-mortar university!

When the final degree had been awarded, Philip Ferguson, a graduate in the MBA program, took the podium to deliver the third (and final) grad address. He noted that although learning via distance could be challenging because of the many time zones involved, it was also a reflection of the ?ever-increasing globalization of business,? and the need, in today’s international commercial environment, to be able to ?effectively communicate electronically on a global front.? (You can read the full text of Philip’s address following this article.)

The final presentation of the day was given by Albert Karvonen, an Alberta filmmaker whose films have brought the wonder–and value–of Canada’s wildlife to audiences around the world. He spoke with obvious enthusiasm about the importance of preserving our natural environment, and remarked with a smile that the AU graduates would make excellent wildlife photographers because of their ability to sit still on stage for such a long time.

On this upbeat note, it was time for the 2007 graduation ceremonies to come to an end. Joy Romero congratulated all of this year’s graduates in her closing remarks, and the stage emptied for the last time as family and friends clapped and cheered the new alumni.

Whether new careers, travel, or more studies await them, It’s clear that the 2007 graduates–like their fellow alumni before them–have the commitment and dedication to see any challenge through. And That’s the best kind of inspiration for AU graduates still to come. See you in 2008!