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May3MonBooth University College’s graduating classes virtually step out into the world. May 3, 2021 by Ken Ramstead
In pre-COVID times, this past April 25 would have seen Knox United Church in Winnipeg filled with Booth University College graduates gathered for the 2021 Spring Convocation and Conferring of Degrees. Faculty and invited guests would have been in the front rows, while family and friends would crowd the rest of the building, all the while being serenaded by a Salvation Army band. The pomp and circumstance would have been memorable as the graduates walked up to receive their hard-earned diplomas.
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But as with so much else around the world, this past year’s pandemic has changed how Booth UC operates, with any sort of large in-house gatherings simply out of the question, not to mention so many students quarantining at home.
Nevertheless, it was still a day of celebration and festivities as a virtual convocation was held instead. The 2020 graduates were also celebrated, as there had not been the opportunity to prepare a virtual convocation last year.
“This is a convocation unlike any other that we’ve held in the 39-year history of Booth University College,” explained Dr. Donald Burke, formerly interim president. “To the graduates, on behalf of everyone at Booth, I want to congratulate you for your success.”
A Celebration of Excellence
After the invocation of the ceremony by the chancellor of Booth UC, Commissioner Floyd Tidd, Dr. Michael Boyce, Booth UC vice-president academic and dean, bestowed the rare academic rank of professor emeritus and professor emerita to Dr. Roy Jeal and Bonnie Bryant, respectively, after years of service.
“Booth University College has never given this rank until now,” said Dr. Boyce. “But today we recognize two recently retired professors who have made considerable contributions to Booth University College and to the lives of their many students.”
Professor Bonnie Bryant of the social work program, who retired last April, “worked tirelessly to build the reputation of the program and to ensure the success of its many graduates,” said Dr. Boyce. “She’s been a role model and mentor for her colleagues, a cheerleader and an ambassador for the institution and a respected figure within the world of social work in Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba.”
Upon arriving at Booth UC, Dr. Jeal “established a reputation as a passionate educator and an internationally respected scholar of biblical studies,” continued Dr. Boyce. “In the classroom, Roy has shaped the minds of generations of students, including many Salvation Army officers, instilling in them a love for the gospel of Jesus Christ and an intellectually mature faith.”
Changing the World
“We made it!” declared class valedictorian Japhlet Lolo.
“Today, we have achieved a great milestone that will leave an unwavering mark on our hearts. I would not have asked to be a part of any other class other than the graduands of 2021.”
Lolo likened his fellow students as a representation of the lessons learned from forests, which are made of unique trees, with different trunks, different sizes and fruits. “Despite these differences, the trees form a beautiful forest site.
“The graduating class of 2021 has co-existed together for the last four years, despite our differences.” he continued. “When we entered the doors of Booth University College, we came in with different lived experiences, different beliefs, from different ethnicities, some of us fresh from high school, some of us parents and mature students. Despite these variances, we co-existed and became a community and, for some, family as well.”
In conclusion, Lolo quoted Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“That is exactly what Booth University College has given us, an education for a better world. We might take different paths and aspirations in life, but as graduates of Booth University College, our goal is to be active contributors to society. Nothing can stop us from chasing our dreams and changing the world.”
Goodness in Action
After Brig.-Gen. Linda Colwell, the retiring chair of Booth UC’s Board of Trustees, provided the scripture reading for the day, Dr. Burke introduced Commissioner M. Christine MacMillan, who was conferred an honorary doctor of laws degree, the first to receive such an honour in the history of Booth UC.
The convocation and conferring of degrees followed, and a total of 162 students graduated with either a diploma, certificate or degree as they move beyond Booth UC to the next stage of their journey. Of special note was the awarding of the Chancellor’s Medal to Joshwill Tampai and the General’s Medal to Lieutenant Kassie Cain.
“We pray that out of their lives would flow service, love and compassion in a world that desperately needs to see God’s goodness in action,” concluded Dr. Cynthia Sottie, associate professor of social work, in a prayer of dedication to the graduating classes.