The mood was enthusiastic and joyful when friends, family, staff and professors gathered for the first in-person Booth University College convocation ceremony since the start of the pandemic. The ceremony took place on the last Sunday in April at Knox United Church in Winnipeg. 

Young woman, in graduation robes, standing at a podium
Bachelor of social work graduate Marla Warkentin delivers the valadictorian's address at the convocation ceremony (Photo: Tim Plett)

That mood was extra festive this year as Booth UC turned 40, so looks back at past accomplishments were coupled with optimism for what the future will bring to the institution in the years to come.

The celebrations started the day before the convocation, however, as members of the Booth UC community gathered for the official unveiling of the Bricks in the Bistro fundraising wall. Those donors in attendance received a bouquet of tulips from a grateful school.

On Sunday, the focus shifted to the convocation. With members of the board of trustees and representatives from divisional and territorial headquarters looking on, 101 students graduated and received their certificate or degree.

“This is the first in-person ceremony since 2019,” declared Lt-Colonel (Dr.) Susan van Duinen, president of Booth UC, to rapturous applause. “Graduating class, congratulations! You’ve done it.

“A convocation is a very celebratory time, is it not?” she went on to say. “It’s a milestone. It marks the moment that you cross the line from student to alumni. Crossing the line between one phase of your life that leads to the next, between what lies behind and what lies ahead.”

After introductory remarks by two Winnipeg MLAs and Colonel (Dr.) Wendy F. Swan, director of the International Social Justice Commission, Commissioner Floyd Tidd, Canada and Bermuda’s territorial commander and chancellor of Booth University College, handed out the diplomas and certificates, accompanied by cheers and applause.

A large group of people gathers in Booth University College's cafeteria
A large crowds turns out for Booth UC's 40th anniversary celebration

After the students received their degrees, Commissioner Tidd presented the Chancellor’s Medal to bachelor of social work graduate Marla Warkentin. Bachelor of arts graduate Lieutenant Alexander MacDonald, corps officer at Bay Roberts, N.L., was awarded the General’s Medal.

“Why am I here?” asked Warkentin, who was also the valedictorian. “To be a representative of my peers and our school. I am standing up here today because I am a culmination of all of you. And I am so honoured to represent you.”

Warkentin shared a quote from a 2022 convocation address at New York University by singer-songwriter Taylor Swift: “Scary news is: You’re on your own now, but the cool news is: you’re on your own now.”

“The cool news is,” Warkentin concluded, “that now we get to take our new formed identities out into the world, and though we will be on our own, we will not be alone.”


On Thursday, May 11, 2023, Terry Shaffer said:

Congratulations to the new graduates, may the Lord richly bless you in the days ahead. And thank you to the faculty and staff for your service through Booth.

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