UPEI Convocation 2024 brings a sense of accomplishment and several firsts

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Macebearer Katherine Guarino and Eagle Feather Bearer Dr. Judy Clark, Elder in Residence at UPEI, lead graduates in the faculties of Nursing and Veterinary Medicine into the Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre for their Convocation ceremony on May 14.
Macebearer Katherine Guarino and Eagle Feather Bearer Dr. Judy Clark, Elder in Residence at UPEI, lead graduates in the faculties of Nursing and Veterinary Medicine into the Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre for their Convocation ceremony on May 14.

The excitement and pride were palpable at the University of Prince Edward Island this past week when the Class of 2024 graduated with their undergraduate and graduate degrees.

The Convocation ceremonies took place in the UPEI Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre on May 14 for graduates of the faculties of Veterinary Medicine and Nursing; May 15 for the faculties of Business and Sustainable Design Engineering; May 16 for the faculties of Arts, Education, and Graduate Studies; and May 17 for the Faculty of Science.

In his address to the graduates, Dr. Greg Keefe praised the graduates for living by UPEI’s values—inclusion, equity, and Indigenization; academic freedom and rigour; accountability and integrity, and excellence. He also noted that this was the first graduating class in which seven students received their bachelor’s degree with a minor in Indigenous Studies; the eagle feather, presented to UPEI last summer by the Native Council of PEI, was carried for the first time in the Academic Procession; and O Canada was sung at the end of each ceremony in Mi’kmaq as well as in English and French.

“Incorporating traditions and symbols are important, but we need to always do more. We have a long way to still to go, but I thank all of those who are advancing Indigenization and reconciliation at UPEI,” said Keefe.

“If I can impart one thing to our graduates,” he added, “it’s always to live and act based on our shared values. And when you combine your disciplinary expertise with the resilience you have developed, and are guided by our UPEI values, no challenge will be too great. I thank everyone for seizing the opportunity and acknowledging our collective responsibility to positively impact those around us. Let’s continue to all work together to help shape our campus and our world for the better.”

Receiving honorary degrees during Convocation Week were Mary Jeanette Gallant and Aggi-Rose Reddin who led the charge in saving the historic Glenaladale estate in Tracadie Cross, PEI; John W. Bragg, CC, ONS, one of Canada’s most successful business founders and leaders; Reginald “Dutch” Thompson, a passionate oral historian and storyteller; and Gary Schneider, founder and coordinator of the Macphail Woods Ecological Project.

Throughout the week, Dr. Andrew Tasker, professor of neuropharmacology (retired), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Edward MacDonald, professor of history, Faculty of Arts, were each conferred with the title of Professor Emeritus.

The valedictorians were Jessica Watts, Faculty of Nursing; Bridget Patterson, Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering; Sarah Legault, Faculty of Education; and Charleigh Teefy, Faculty of Science.

Each of the four valedictorians spoke about the unique challenges that they and their fellow graduates faced and the resilience they showed as they strove to complete their education. They also stressed the need to be kind, to have courage and persevere in the face of obstacles, and to be lifelong learners.

During the May 14th ceremony, valedictorian and nursing graduate Jessica Watts said the Class of 2024 not just faced but persevered through several major obstacles during their time at UPEI.

“The future of nursing and veterinary medicine requires resiliency, loyalty, determination, and a fresh perspective,” she said. “I am confident that the Class of 2024 is the embodiment of just that. We have endured the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hurricane Fiona, in-person semester disturbances, a month-long strike, and a critical healthcare worker shortage, to name a few. We continued to study, learn, grow, and work during these unprecedented times, showing our unwavering commitment to the profession we are soon entering…I encourage each of you to be brave. To be bold. To be confident. To be the change.”

During the ceremony on May 15, the Honourable Diane Griffin, who was recently installed as the University’s tenth Chancellor, conferred upon the Honourable Catherine Callbeck the title of Chancellor Emerita at UPEI for her exceptional service as the University’s ninth Chancellor from 2018 to 2023.

On May 16, the first cohort of the Doctor of Psychology program graduated. The program prepares graduates to practice as clinical psychologists.

At the conclusion of each ceremony, Chancellor Griffin, who was presiding over Convocation for the first time, offered special thanks to Dr. Greg Keefe for his service as the University’s interim president and vice-chancellor for the past two-and-a-half years. Her words invoked a standing ovation.

During the Convocation ceremony for Faculty of Science graduates on May 17, Kassandra Devon Lynn, Doctor of Philosophy, Faculty of Science, was awarded the Governor General’s Medal (graduate) and the Faculty of Graduate Studies Award of Distinction. Briana Creed, Bachelor of Science Honours, received the Governor General’s Medal (undergraduate).

The senior class awards were presented earlier in the week. Click here to view the complete list of awards.  

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