MEDIA RELEASE: 19 June 2020 – R0106
During a normal Spring Convocation, it would take three days for half of Brock University’s graduating students to cross the stage and have their degrees conferred.
But on the first day that Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation portal opened Friday, June 19, it took just over three hours.
Thousands of students viewed their personalized Convocation portal, logging in from nearly every province and territory across the country and 41 countries around the world.
It certainly isn’t the traditional Convocation experience, with family and friends gathered in Ian Beddis Gymnasium to witness the pomp and circumstance of Convocation, but amid the restrictions of COVID-19, the Virtual experience is meant to celebrate students until an in-person gathering can be held in the future. Rather than a single-day event, the Virtual Convocation portal will remain online for students and their families to access and watch whenever they choose.
It’s personalized based on their Faculty and if they’re graduating with an undergrad or graduate degree, and includes fun animated elements such as the ‘Throw virtual confetti’ button, a nod to Brock’s tradition of graduating students throwing the bag of confetti first given to them when they were admitted to the University.
“Today’s Convocation represents your success,” Brock President Gervan Fearon said in his address to students. “As you move through your career and your life, you’ll always know that your Brock University experience and the strengths you have developed here, makes it possible to achieve your dreams and aspirations, even in the face of unanticipated developments.”
“The Class of 2020, wherever you go, whatever you do in the future, you are always part of the Brock family,” Fearon said. “I have been honoured to meet many of you, and I look forward to seeing and meeting you in the future, but now as alumni of Brock University.”
Delivering the Convocation keynote address was former Prime Minister the Right Honorable Paul Martin, one of five Honorary Doctorate recipients recognized by the University Friday.
Martin said when was first invited to address graduands at Convocation, he planned to speak to the need to advance co-operation between nations. But since then, something more pressing demanded his — and the world’s — attention.
“It is now self-evident that the game has changed,” said Martin, Canada’s Prime Minister from 2003 to 2006. “We’re dealing with forces that have challenged all of humanity. These forces are climate change and pandemic disease.”
The time is now, he said, that graduands must lead, noting that many are already on the frontlines of tackling climate change.
He added that previous cohorts of graduating classes — for example, those who graduated in the mid-1940s — faced shaky economics and worked to create a new world and build some of the most prominent global institutions, such as the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), “all of which made the world a safer place to be and gave us the longest period of economic growth and peace in modern history.”
“They did that in their time,” he said. “This is your time. And I know you are up for it. You are the next generation of leaders, of doers, of thinkers. And you’ve been educated in one of Canada’s great universities.”
While the battles of the past have been of military forces, economic prowess and global dominance, Martin said graduands must prepare to fight climate change, pandemic disease and the future of humanity.
“I believe you are our best chance to win the battles that lie ahead,” he said, adding that it is only made possible by working collaboratively and thinking globally.
“You and your generation here in Canada and all over the world must rise to the great challenges that lie ahead,” said Martin. “These are your challenges, and I know you’re up for them. As you leave university, I know that you will exemplify Brock’s motto: Push on. Push on to a better future. Push on to a better world. With that, I would like to congratulate you all today and I would like to thank you for what you will do tomorrow.”
In addition to his remarks, students and their families were invited to watch addresses from political and academic leaders, student colleagues, the other honorary degree recipients, and importantly, Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo, whose role includes the official conferring of the degrees for the nearly 3,000 graduating students.
Among the teaching and student awards handed out Friday were the Governor General’s Gold Medal, given out at each Spring Convocation to a graduate student with the highest academic average over all courses in their program.
However, since identical twins, Simon and Benjamin Earp-Lynch, of St. Catharines, finished their Faculty of Math and Science master’s degrees with identical 98 per cent averages, the University had to make a special request to the Governor General’s office to award two Gold Medal awards. It marks the first time the award it has been given to multiple recipients at Brock.
Note: While Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation portal opened to students and their friends and family on Friday, the wider community will have access to it starting Monday, and it will remain online for everyone to experience at their own leisure.
For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University firstname.lastname@example.org 905-347-1970
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