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President’s perspective: Ourstanding student experience

May 23, 2013 — 

You will often hear me talk about the outstanding student experience we offer at the University of Manitoba and our desire to ensure that the time our 29,000 students spend with us is as rewarding as possible.

President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard

President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard

On Friday, May 10, I had the privilege of travelling to Thompson to attend the Northern Social Work Program graduation ceremony. Eleven students received their diplomas joined by family, friends, faculty and the larger community.

The Northern Social Work Program has been in existence for nearly 30 years, providing an opportunity for professional social workers from the North to be educated in and near their home communities.  

The individuals who received their diplomas at the ceremony held in Thompson have chosen a profession that is among the most challenging in our society. In many cases, they will be working to help restore families that have been damaged for a variety of heartbreaking circumstances.

Several of those students have children of their own and successfully managed to juggle the competing priorities of school and family. Some were the first members of their family to graduate from university.

It is truly inspiring to see our graduates so committed to a program that is grounded in the desire to help others.

It is truly inspiring to see our graduates so committed to a program that is grounded in the desire to help others.

The University of Manitoba is a community of learning, discovery and engagement that successfully takes on critical issues facing our province, country and world.  This program demonstrates just one of the many ways in which we address the breadth of the Manitoba’s priorities. Through teaching and research, we help improve our health care system. Education enables the transition out of poverty. Our researchers confront environmental challenges, such as water quality and climate change. We are at the heart of the province’s arts community.

The University of Manitoba has some of the best researchers in the world, who have distinguished themselves by making discoveries with global impact. These include preventing the spread of HIV-AIDS and other infectious diseases, promoting and defending human rights at home and throughout the globe and uncovering the causes and impact of climate change.

Our graduating students have learned from these world-class scholars and researchers and are ready to make their own impact on the world. They have earned the diplomas through time, effort and dedication and this truly is a time for celebration.

Family, faculty, friends and fellow students who helped them through this academic journey also deserve our congratulations and thanks.

Our graduates are joining an alumni community that includes nearly 130,000 remarkable people.

This includes chief executive officers at some of Canada’s most successful companies; world-class physicians; exceptional researchers; groundbreaking artists; National Chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations; jurists on provincial, Canadian and international courts; and senior government and elected officials at the highest levels.

Eighty per cent of graduates stay and work in Manitoba, making our university the province’s best retention program for medical professionals, engineers, architects, entrepreneurs, scientists, teachers, musicians, jurists, visual artists and critical thinkers.

Just as Northern Manitoba will be served by the 11 newest graduates of the Northern Social Work Program, we know our graduates will enrich the lives of people and communities throughout our province, country and world.

It is my hope that this is the beginning of their relationship with the University of Manitoba. As their lives unfold and flourish, I hope our paths continue to cross and connections grow as alumni, community partners and life-long learners.

This column first appeared in the May 23, 2013 edition of The Bulletin.

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