The April convocation for Winnipeg's Booth University College celebrated the largest graduating class to date. Eighty graduates received their degree or certificate before family, friends, faculty and staff at Knox United Church in Winnipeg.

While the day marked the end of their time at the college, Dr. Donald Burke, president, reminded graduates that this was a new beginning of a life where they can be much-needed agents of change in the world.

“Today marks an important transition—a passage. We have done what we could to instruct, inform and inspire you. Now it's over to you,” said Dr. Burke. “There is a better world out there for the taking and for the making. We entrust this vision of a better world to you, with confidence and anticipation.”

Commissioner Brian Peddle, territorial commander and chancellor, addressed those gathered earlier in the day for the baccalaureate service at the college's Hetherington Chapel. “The world needs people like these graduates—people who understand their convictions and are prepared to act accordingly,” he said. “Seize every moment to serve, in a world so desperate and in need. Do the extraordinary day by day.”

This year's convocation was marked with several poignant moments, endings and beginnings. Emily Marie MacFarlane crossed the stage as the first graduate of Booth's bachelor of business administration program. Commissioner Brian Peddle presented the Chancellor's Medal to Lani Marie Thiessen Zastre and the General's Medal to Darlene Jayne Morgan. Special recognition was given to the final graduating class of the certificate of management program who celebrated their achievements at an earlier ceremony in British Columbia. To better meet the Army's needs, the college, in partnership with Simon Fraser University, launched a new certificate in not-for-profit management program in May.

“This final cohort consisted entirely of students from the British Columbia Division, a testament to the forward thinking, planning and commitment of the leaders in this part of our Canada and Bermuda Territory,” said Major Philip Davisson, associate dean at Booth's School for Continuing Studies. “Your ongoing work together will continue to keep British Columbia on the cutting edge of faithful service to others in our communities.”

This year's valedictorian, bachelor of social work graduate Faven Mergia, was born and raised in a refugee camp in Kenya, arriving in Canada with her family at age 14. For the past three years, she has been working with Peaceful Village, an after-school program funded by the Manitoba School Improvement Program that assists refugee youth by providing academic and recreational support. Most recently, Mergia was hired into The Salvation Army's L.E.E.P. program (Life Enhancement and Employability Program) at the Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre in Winnipeg.

During her valedictory address, Mergia reminded graduates, “Today we take the first step towards becoming the agents of change that Booth has molded us to be. We are going out into a world where hurt, despair and various other heartbreaking events take place and it is our duty to do our part in bringing the much-needed healing and restoration to it in whatever field we are going into,” she said. “As we take the next step, let us not forget the lessons we've learned throughout this part of our journey. Let us passionately believe in a better world and strive to do our part in bringing that vision a step closer to reality.”


On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, Major Julius Omukonyi said:

We give glory to God and to all the leaders at Booth University College who have contributed immensely in ensuring that these students receive quality education which will be used in reaching out to so many in the world who need their service like yesterday. The Salvation Army is still focused I am happy to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord where they don't loose their focus in addressing all issues affecting humanity i.e spiritual, moral, physical, intellectual, and socially. Congratulations to all the graduates and the teaching staff not forgetting my church The Salvation Army.

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