Friday was a day of firsts at UBC Okanagan as the university conferred 756 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to students in three ceremonies.
For the first time, the graduating class included students who completed their entire degree at UBC Okanagan, having started their university experience with UBC Okanagan’s very first classes in September 2005.
“I loved it here — I loved the small classes, getting to know my professors, trying different classes in the Arts program,” said new graduate Julie Ferris, who moved to the Okanagan from Alberta to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics. “This has been a great school and I feel very strongly connected to it.”
Leading her first UBC Okanagan Convocation since beginning a three-year term last July, UBC Chancellor Sarah Morgan-Silvester urged students to embrace their global citizenship, pay attention to the big picture, and help the world find solutions “where others see only problems.”
“Today’s issues are global issues, and today’s opportunities are global opportunities. We need to develop better tools to see the bigger picture and manage our collective outcomes,” said Morgan-Silvester, noting that one of the reasons she serves as the volunteer chancellor of UBC “is because UBC strives to develop a perspective and a sense of responsibility in our students, faculty and staff that is truly global.”
She said global citizenship is “acting with the knowledge that local decisions can have global impact, and conversely global decisions can have an impact right here at home. It means acknowledging our interconnectedness.”
“You are crossing the finish line,” UBC President Stephen Toope said in opening his remarks, encouraging students to consider the contributions they can make to the world.
“Twenty years from now you just might be changing how we look at our world…. We all have different contributions to make in understanding the Earth, life and society,” he said. “You have opportunity to learn more throughout your life by expanding your horizons.”
Doug Owram, Deputy Vice Chancellor, reminded students of their first days at university, and how they overcame challenges to earn their degrees.
“You probably doubted your ability to get through some of those assignments and yet you succeeded. That is why you are here today. You have the education and you have the ability,” he said.
“Whether you are going to graduate school or are beginning a career, remember two things: remember those successes and have confidence, and use your talents and your education to make a difference as well as a career.”
The ceremonies saw the first use of UBC Okanagan’s own university mace, a symbol of authority of the Chancellor. The new Okanagan mace was created by First Nations artist Sheldon Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band.
Carved in the shape of a paddle, the mace features three symbolic spirit icons – a mother bear with two cubs, the image of mountains, and water. These were selected by First Nations elders led by Andrew McGinnis and Victor Antoine. Silver inlay was applied by Justin Terbasket of the Lower Similkameen band.
“Our mace was created in a way that reflects UBC Okanagan’s sense of place and its important relationship with the Okanagan nation,” Deputy Vice Chancellor Owram informed the audience. “Five years, 10 years or a generation from now this mace will be carried in graduation ceremonies — and you are the first to see it used.”
Two of Canada’s foremost video and new media artists, Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak, received honorary Doctor of Letters degrees at the first Convocation ceremony Friday morning.
An honorary Doctor of Laws degree was conferred upon Peter Meekison in an afternoon ceremony. Appointed as the public administrator for Okanagan University College, in 2004 and 2005 Meekison oversaw the transition of that institution into Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan.
First PhD a milestone for advanced degrees in region
UBC Okanagan also conferred its very first doctoral degree on Friday. Sarrah Vakili’s PhD in chemistry was conferred by UBC Okanagan’s College of Graduate Studies and the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. Awarding its first doctoral degree is a real milestone for UBC Okanagan, said Marvin Krank, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
“The conferral of our first PhD marks a new era for the availability of advanced degrees in the Okanagan,” said Krank. “The doctorate is the highest level of degree offered by the academy and it signifies recognition of world-class scholarship.”
Currently, the College of Graduate Studies has 59 doctoral students. Krank said that in the coming year another 29 will be admitted to doctoral programs.
“We have already graduated many master’s students and our doctoral programs have grown dramatically over the past few years,” he said, noting that the rapid growth of graduate studies has been one main benefit of creating the UBC campus in Kelowna.
“These program span the breadth of academic disciplines here, from science and engineering to creative arts. Dr. Vakili will be the first of many who will earn their PhD at UBC Okanagan.”
Degrees conferred on Friday, June 5
|Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)||1|
|Master of Social Work||10|
|Master of Science in Nursing||2|
|Master of Science||7|
|Master of Fine Arts||2|
|Master of Education||19|
|Master of Applied Science||3|
|Master of Arts||12|
|Bachelor of Arts||259|
|Bachelor of Education (secondary)||38|
|Bachelor of Education (elementary)||60|
|Bachelor of Fine Arts||20|
|Bachelor of Management||72|
|Bachelor of Science||133|
|Bachelor of Science in Nursing||79|
|Bachelor of Social Work||39|
— 30 —