Grads celebrate virtual spring convocation
Earning a UM certificate is cause for celebration
Certainly, celebrating graduation online is different. You experience it on your screen rather than in the direct company of your fellow graduates. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Extended Education celebrated our Spring Virtual Convocation digitally on June 17. This time, UM introduced a new interactive platform that invited students to chat with friends, save their messages of thanks and celebration in an online yearbook, and visit various booths before the ceremony began.
Kellie Williams, Applied Counselling graduate, attended her online convocation with one of her teens and her partner. She noted how a virtual experience was different. Although she submitted her photo and quote for a slide in the virtual procession, she says many of her fellow classmates did not and that disappointed her. “I think the university tried their best but nothing compares to the real thing.”
Yet whether the convocation was in-person or not, this was an important milestone for Williams, one of Extended Education’s 360 graduates from 22 different programs including Management and Administration, Human Resource Management and more. She was celebrating and her family was very proud of her.
“They are all proud and I got to show them that schooling is important and can be done at any age. It’s never too late!”
Of her time in the program, Williams says, “Honestly, I feel like it was a great experience … I had some amazing instructors that regularly blew my mind. I am a better person for having this experience.”
Williams has worked in mental health for a decade, and she plans to use what she learned in the Applied Counselling program in her career in the future.
For Williams, earning this university certificate was a big deal. “It is quite an accomplishment. It’s been 4 years part-time while working and raising a family. I don’t have a degree so this means so much to me.”
For anyone considering going back to school to keep learning, she definitely recommends it. “Just take the first step. Just try one course. Don’t think about how long it will take or you might talk yourself out of it. Education is something that can never be taken away once you have it. Invest in yourself.”
Graduates were welcomed to the event with a welcome video that reminded them that at UM, they are part of a community and the university was there to celebrate them.
Anne Mahon, UM Chancellor welcomed everyone to the 142nd Annual Spring Convocation. She said, “I miss seeing your beautiful, happy faces today. It’s a time of huge societal disruption and personal learning. But life goes on and you have persevered and are graduating. This is truly a cause for celebration.”
Michael Benarroch, UM President, said, “ We know this wasn’t easy… Thank you for your incredible resilience. Thank you for all you will do going forward. .. We are so very proud of you.”
Vanessa Lillie performed the Honour Song.
David Mandzuk, Acting Dean, Extended Education congratulated our grads. “I know that you have worked very hard to achieve your goals and you should be very proud of your accomplishments. And this is particularly true given that you were able to finish your programs during a global pandemic… As you know, we are living through a transformational time in human history. No one really knows what the world of work will look like in the future. But it’s clear that characteristics like adaptability, creativity and a high degree of digital fluency will be absolutely necessary in the post-COVID era. We are confident that you have strengthened these types of skills during your time with us and will be able to survive and even thrive during the uncertain days ahead.”
Mandzuk’s best wishes were followed by the virtual procession featuring slides with photos and quotes from students including Williams.