Oct. 25, 2019Print | PDF
Thank you, Madam Chancellor.
Congratulations graduands and my warmest welcome to everyone here who is celebrating with you today.
Convocation day is a mix of emotions: happiness, relief, excitement, and, perhaps a little trepidation for what comes next.
Today, you leave Laurier with a university education.
This is a big deal! Graduating university is a remarkably rare achievement in our world.
All of you are exceptionally well-educated, hard-working individuals.
Congratulations again on the hours of effort it took to get here – in the classroom, in your co-op or other experiential learning placements, in your full-or part-time jobs in support of your financial security, taking care of family members, or being on the playing field if you were a student athlete.
Whatever your pathway was to success, and the many challenges along the road, my compliments on your significant achievement of being here today.
When you receive your parchment, you may notice in addition to your name, the place and date, there is also language that says, “With all the attendant rights and privileges granted…”
These rights and privileges are shared by a very small global community of individuals who have had the opportunity, drive and ability to commit themselves to academic excellence.
Through all your hard work, you’ve demonstrated that you possess the resilience needed to see a degree through to the end.
Resilience cannot exist without challenge and the challenges you’ve faced and overcome during your time at Laurier speak volumes about the kind of person you are and the kind of person you can be.
In addition to applying your knowledge to you career opportunities, one of your responsibilities is to take what you’ve learned about yourself and your ability to overcome challenges and transform it into compassion and empathy in the service of others.
As you embark on this next chapter of your lives, I encourage you to consider how you can become a compassionate mentor and leader to others.
Some of you will be starting your first professional jobs. Others will be exploring the world. Some of you will be heading off to graduate school, or to earn other credentials.
Whatever you do when you leave Laurier, ask yourself how you can incorporate empathy, compassion and kindness into your relationships with others.
As the Chancellor noted, one only has to look at the current state of political discourse, or the humanitarian and environmental challenges we face, to realize that in today’s world, empathy, kindness and compassion will go a long way not only in our personal relationships, but in defining our actions that will support the greater good.
As we all know, life can be filled with moments of great joy, such as days like today. It can also be filled with very difficult moments.
Cultivating empathy and compassion, not only for others, but also for ourselves, allows us to more fully appreciate the good times, but also weather those challenging life experiences that can seem insurmountable.
Through compassion, we seek understanding, rather than criticism and judgement.
With understanding, we see that although we may face adversity in this moment, it is within our power to maintain hope, take comfort in our relationships, and together, take action to overcome challenges.
When I consider my own educational pathway, one period during my doctoral studies comes to mind.
When I was about three quarters of the way done my PhD I hit a wall.
The courage and passion that had propelled me to that point seemed to have deserted me.
In hindsight, there were lots of reasons for this: job prospects in academia and research were low at the time; and my interests were expanding from straight research into volunteer areas completely outside of research and science.
It could also be that I had been in school with no break since kindergarten – I’m sure some of you can relate!
In essence, I had a crisis of confidence in my chosen path.
My graduate supervisor did the best thing he could for me. He showed me compassion and, importantly, patience, and let me set the pace I needed to complete my studies.
His assurance I would finish never wavered. His confidence allowed me to reach deep inside and find the resilience I needed.
Not only that, he helped me to find my path forward beyond my PhD. I am forever grateful. I hope that you have had similar supportive experiences at Laurier and will remember to pay it forward when someone needs help.
The friends and mentors you have met at Laurier provide an excellent network of support that will make you more resilient.
I encourage you to cherish these relationships. Properly nurtured, they will remain some of the most significant relationships throughout your life.
As president of Laurier, I hear stories every day of professors who go out of their way to support student success; and of students who volunteer and donate to help organizations both locally and globally.
We have remarkable staff members who have worked tirelessly to ensure our students cross this stage today.
If you look around, you will notice the many Laurier community members who have volunteered their time today to celebrate and recognize our graduands.
I am so proud of this thriving community.
As you move forward into your next adventure, remember your Laurier experiences and take this spirit of community with you.
Set an example and then inspire others, wherever you go.
The world is counting on you to be compassionate and kind.
I am confident that all of you will achieve much success in the coming years.
Congratulations once again on this significant achievement!
We see you are accessing our website on IE8. We recommend you view in Chrome, Safari, Firefox or IE9+ instead.×