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Algonquin bids farewell to class of '13

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Photo credit: STEPHEN UHLER stephen.uhler@sunmedia.ca
Some of the 400 members of the Class of 2013 listen to the opening addresses during Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley's 43rd convocation ceremony, held Thursday night at the Pembroke Memorial Centre. They have the distinction of being the first graduating class from the new waterfront campus. For more community photos, please visit our website photo gallery at www.thedailyobserver.ca.

Photo credit: STEPHEN UHLER stephen.uhler@sunmedia.ca Some of the 400 members of the Class of 2013 listen to the opening addresses during Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley's 43rd convocation ceremony, held Thursday night at the Pembroke Memorial Centre. They have the distinction of being the first graduating class from the new waterfront campus. For more community photos, please visit our website photo gallery at www.thedailyobserver.ca.

Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley’s Class of 2013 made its mark in history Thursday evening, as they had the honour of being acknowledged as the very first graduates from the new waterfront campus.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 friends, family, faculty, special guests and supporters of the college gathered at the Pembroke Memorial Centre to celebrate the accomplishments of around 400 graduates, many of whom sat in the centre of the rink to take part in convocation ceremonies in person.

Algonquin College governor Fred Blackstein said while this is the 43rd convocation ceremony, it is also far more than that, stressing they would all be remembered as the first graduating class of the new campus.

Karen Davies, Pembroke Campus Dean, said it has been quite the year as the current class of graduates had the challenge of relocating in the middle of their studies.

“A special thanks to our graduating class, for their patience and understanding in the moving to the new waterfront campus,” she said, which itself was full of challenges.

Davies said she is glad they were able to finish out their college career at the new facility.

Dr. Kent MacDonald, Algonquin College president, said they at the college, as well as their family, friends and the community, are very proud of their achievements.

“We honour your persistence and your achievements,” he said, and reminded them all of the special kinship they have which is shared with all graduates.

“These are more than just gowns,” MacDonald said, indicating the graduation robes they were wearing for the ceremony.

“You are wearing a symbol of achievement, one which serves as your connection to 150,000 Algonquin grads who have come before you.”

He told the Class of 2013 their actions and demands have made the college a better place, and said they have high hopes the graduates will be the ones to create change in the world. For them to do this, the president encouraged them to dream big and take risks.

“Leave the Pembroke Memorial Centre tonight with a spirit of boldness,” MacDonald said, and don’t let others tell you what you cannot do.

Valedictorian John Cochrane, a graduate of the Social Service Worker program and who once served in the military, said it was his incredible honour to be addressing everyone this night, which was significant in a number of ways.

“Today, the 6th of June, is a special day,” he said. “It represents not only the convocation day for close to 400 students from this esteemed institution, but also the beginning of the graduates’ individual journeys along their chosen paths to success.”

“This date is also one of symbolic significance to all Canadians. On this day sixty-nine years ago, thousands of Canadians, many as young as the youngest in this graduating class, joined a crusade to liberate millions of people living under the dark clouds of oppression in Europe.”

“The casualties from D-Day were severe, but the freedom the soldiers bought at such a heavy cost is the freedom we enjoy today; freedom to raise our families, to live and love and, as witnessed by everyone here today, freedom to pursue our future happiness and success through education.”

Cochrane said this campus is unique in being located near one of Canada’s largest military bases, and it’s important no one forget many of their fellow graduates are directly connected to the Armed Forces.

 

They are veterans, soldiers, spouses, and children of servicemen and women and close family friends.

He said he is a proud Canadian, and appreciates our country’s multicultural mosaic, and international reputation as one of the best countries in which to live and learn. He said he believes we owe this reputation, in large part, to the contributions to society by those cultures and ethnicities upon which this country was founded; from the proud First Nations Peoples to our newest immigrants. This multicultural identity is no more apparent than within the walls of the Pembroke Campus.

“In this small rural community, Algonquin College is changing the face of the Ottawa Valley by bringing together students from around the world,” Cochrane said.

“This graduating class is a diverse blend of nationalities, cultures, and ages that have shared experiences and ideas, and visions and dreams, all the while working diligently on individual assignments or together on group projects.”

“We had international students this year from Iran, Great Britain, the United States, and Africa, some of whom are graduating here today. We also have many more students who have emigrated from around the world and are now Canadian citizens, as well as students who have travelled from out-of-province to attend this campus.”

Cochrane said their graduating class is as diverse as any that have come before, and he believes wherever his fellow graduates choose to go, they will be ready to take on the challenges that lay before them.

“They not only have the requisite and contemporary knowledge base from which to grow their careers, they now know much more about themselves and their capabilities than they did at the beginning of their college journey,” he said.

The valedictorian took time to thank administrators, educators, and support staff of Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley for helping them all make this a very special place to learn. Their value became more evident during the recent operation to move the old campus to the new one.

“That the move was completed and the campus put into full operation in very short order, and with relatively minimal interruption of the students’ programs of study, is quite remarkable,” he said.

Cochrane’s closing message to his fellow grads was just like the world is coming to Algonquin, they can go to the world.

“Your Algonquin education is a passport to new beginnings, and let it take you to your promised land. Whether it’s here in the Ottawa Valley, somewhere else in our beautiful nation, or in another country, we are all bonded by the power of education.”

“Fellow graduates, as we continue on our journey, let’s not forget where we came from and who helped us along the way. Let’s not forget the trials and tribulations we faced together and the solid friendships we have made,” he said.

“Most of all, let’s not forget that we have reached only the first milestone in our journey to success. Your future is what you make it, and you lose 100 per cent of the opportunities you do not take! So, take advantage of opportunities that come your way and, if there are none, make them!”

Cochrane wrapped up his address by quoting Winston Churchill: “Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential,” then added how they all have what it takes to be successful.

“Now go show the world what an Algonquin College graduate can do!”

Following the distribution of diplomas, a number of special awards were handed out during the convocation ceremony.

Samuel Graham, General Arts and Sciences, was presented the 2013 annual Award for Excellence, presented to a graduating student who has combined outstanding scholastic achievement with demonstrated leadership ability and community participation.

Lilyana Gebrearegawi of the Business program received the Alumni Association Award, presented to a graduate who exemplified the greatest concern for the Algonquin College community while at the college.

Jori Baldwin of the Forestry program was presented the Governor General’s Medal, a cross college award which is awarded to the student who achieves the highest academic standing in the final year of a diploma-level, post-secondary program.

Others awards are as follows:

The General Proficiency Award for Nursing went to Lisa McKay.

The Lois Cahill Memorial Award went to Terri Burdan.

The Children’s Garden Nursery School Award went to Mireille Mainville.

The Renfrew County Early Childhood Education Program Directors’ Award went to Eileen Cochrane.

The Wise Owl Day Care Award was presented to Alexandria Daymond.

The Reginald and Lenore McGarr Memorial Award was presented to Corey Bradley.

Personal Support Worker Awarda were received by Donna Macera and Kerry Nolan.

The Pembroke Police Service Award went to Dallas MacLeod, who also received the TestReadyPro Police Recruit Candidate of the Year Award.

The Police Foundations Program Award went to Ashley Green.

The Roy C. Reiche Award was presented to Robynne Hansen.

The L. A. Nienkirchen Award was accepted by Kim Kviring.

The RPNAO Award for Student Excellence was presented to Daniella McLaughlin.

The Canadian Nuclear Society Award was presented to Ian Drijber, Steven MacKenzie and Sheena MacRitchie.

Receiving the Radiation Safety Advisory Committee Award for Comprehensive Performance was Steven MacKenzie.

Receiving the Radiation Safety Advisory Committee Award for the Most Improved Student was Conner Haist.

The Cathy Perry Memorial Award was presented to Kevin Juillette.

The Graduating SSW Class Leadership Award was received by Kathryn Thomas.

The W.T. “Eldon” Craig Memorial Award was presented to Jordan Peleshok.

The Co-Operators - Frances Lemke Insurance Award went to Ryan McGonegal.

The Dean-Sinclair Chartered Accountants’ Award of Accounting and Small Business Finance was presented to Brianna Schruder-Tate, who was also presented the Marketing Management Bursary Award.

The TD Canada Trust (Pembroke) Award of Leadership and Communication Skills went to Rachel Cashin.

The Computer Systems Technician Award, the OACETT Award (The Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists), went to Charlene Ethier.

The Canadian Institute of Forestry Gold Medal Award went to Melissa Meneghetti.

The Dr. D.A. Fraser Award was presented to Matt MacKenzie.

The Keith Harold Wright Memorial Award went to Tim Streng.

The Benson Auto Parts Award went to Brandon Daechsel.

The Darwin Wendover Memorial Award was presented to Jordan Mulvihill.

The NAPA Auto Parts Award went to Ryan Labelle.

The Moncion Grocers Award went to Dinah Fleury.

The Office Administration - Executive Program Award went to Khala Lesk.

The Scott Rosien and Dempsey Chartered Accountants Award went to Stephanie Levesque.

The Outdoor Adventure Program Award went to Jonathon Broughton.

The Wilderness Tours Award of Excellence went to Melissa Lavery.

The Outdoor Adventure Naturalist Program Award went to Johnathon Hiscock.

The Wilderness Tours Award of Excellence went to Katarina Pavlica.

Receiving the Highland TIM-BR Mart Award was Jason Hartwick.

Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

stephen.uhler@sunmedia.ca


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