UBC Okanagan’s graduating Class of 2022 will be remembered for two things: its size, the largest group of graduates in the campus’s history, and the fact it will be the first in-person convocation ceremony in more than two years.
On June 9 and 10, UBCO will confer more than 2,400 degrees in six different graduating ceremonies. The last time graduating students crossed the stage in person was in 2019, with both the 2020 and 2021 ceremonies held virtually.
“We are always proud of our students,” says UBCO Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Lesley Cormack. “But the students graduating this year have completed their studies under circumstances they couldn’t have imagined when they embarked on this journey. Their success during these unusual times proves how hard they have worked and how determined they are.”
Indeed, many of the students receiving their undergraduate degrees this year have spent more than two years learning online and through remote lectures, labs and exams. And it hasn’t been easy.
Ozren Petkovic started his studies in 2018, to work towards his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology. When the pandemic was declared in 2020, Petkovic hunkered down at home, determined to complete his degree. But he made a point of keeping in touch with his friends, organizing virtual chats and regular game nights.
Despite doing much of his education remotely, Petkovic remained involved in campus life and is the recipient of UBCO’s Golden Apple Teaching Award for supporting learning outside the classroom. He has also been a member of the orientation team for the past few years, and has worked with several different departments supporting student learning and engagement on the UBCO campus—including being a supplemental learning leader, peer mentor, chemistry course union tutor and president of the pre-med club.
If he was to advise a new student, Petkovic would tell them to take their education one step at a time—don’t rush through these years—and do some learning away from the classroom.
“Finishing university is a marathon rather than a sprint. There is no need to overexert yourself in your first few years when you have more to go,” he says. “And yes, university is about going to class but it is also what you do outside of class. If you are new at university, find something you are passionate about, join that club and get involved.”
As Petkovic, along with 2,400 fellow students cross the stage—UBCO’s largest graduating class ever—Dr. Cormack notes the next few days will be filled with special moments for this year’s graduates and their families. Convocation ceremonies take place Thursday, June 9 and Friday, June 10, with three ceremonies each day.
“It’s wonderful to be able to gather in person again to celebrate the success of our students,” adds Dr. Cormack. “Once again, our students have shown their resilience and ability to cope and thrive in the face of change. With everything they have accomplished over the course of their studies, I’m incredibly proud of the extraordinary UBC Okanagan Class of 2022. Congratulations to you all.”