In his final Convocation as President of Brock University, Gervan Fearon sent the Class of 2021 off with words of encouragement, reminding them that they are uniquely prepared to deal with life’s unanticipated developments.
“In my video message to last year’s graduates, I spoke about how the past few months had brought remarkable challenges, compelled us to make astonishing changes and to accept many compromises in our normal routines. But that despite all these considerations, we have collectively persevered and grown from the experience,” said Fearon, whose tenure as Brock President concludes on June 30. “However, I did not foresee at the time that graduates one year later would have completed the past year and a half virtually, through online classes. It is an accomplishment that makes you, the Class of 2021, remarkable, outstanding and, indeed, very special.”
With the pandemic continuing to place restrictions on the size of public gatherings, the University’s Spring Convocation — Brock’s 109th overall — was delivered as a personalized online portal for the nearly 3,300 graduands.
Students were sent an invitation to the portal from the Deans of their respective Faculties Friday, June 18, and were then free to enjoy the Convocation experience with their friends and families at their convenience.
The personalized online experience highlighted award winners from each Faculty and included a series of messages to the graduands from their respective Deans, Brock University Students’ Union President Rafay Rehan and Graduate Students’ Association President Christopher Yendt.
Hundreds took advantage of two new features offered this year: the opportunity to purchase souvenir gowns and hoods from the Brock Campus Store, as well as a new Celebration Wall, where grads, family, friends, faculty, staff and the wider community could post messages and photos of congratulations to the Class of 2021.
In his address, Fearon said this year’s graduates move into the next chapter of their lives with the important attributes of resilience, hope and connectedness.
“Resilience is a very desirable trait and one that this pandemic has heightened in all of us. It refers to hardiness, the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties,” he said.
“Hope is a progressive and affirming quality, and it is contagious. Your hope can give others the courage they need to discover, or rediscover, their own. And finally, connectedness is about our relationship with others. It is about our ability to inspire, and to be inspired by others. It is an important attribute for predicting an individual’s success, within the university environment as well as in the workplace.”
Fearon encouraged graduates to “take time to reflect on your wonderful achievement.”
“How have you developed both intellectually and personally from your educational experiences and from your participation in extra- and co-curricular, activities?” he said. “Savour this day — as you should feel immense pride in what you have accomplished. The University is proud of you, and, personally, I am extremely proud of you too.”
Also delivering an address to the graduates was Brock Chancellor Hilary Pearson, who said she has been inspired by university students at Brock and across the country who are getting engaged in issues ranging from equality rights to social inclusion and justice to climate change.
“Education is not just textbook learning or research, but an opportunity to influence community life,” she said. “One of the messages of the pandemic is that we are all in this together — it’s not only up to politicians, business leaders or other ‘authority’ figures to address our shared social issues. Given what you in our rising generation face in terms of social and environmental challenges, it is not an option but a necessity to educate you to act as engaged and empowered citizens.”
Pearson said students have reacted to the COVID-19 crisis with “adaptability and determination.”
“These are qualities that I am certain will be important to our country in the future,” she said. “More than ever, I believe our universities recognize their obligation to be centres not just of learning, but also of active citizenship. Your university can be an ally, not an opponent of your activism. You are the talent that Canada needs to work through the challenges of the coming decades together.”
With their degrees officially conferred, all graduates will be mailed Convocation in a Box packages containing their degree parchment, a Convocation program, an alumni pin, a copy of Surgite magazine, other information from the Brock University Alumni Association and a bag of Class of 2021 confetti.