Aniela Cockburn helped the college kick off its first of three days of ceremonies for 2018 fall graduates in the Students Commons Theatre on Oct. 24.
“It doesn’t matter which course you took. The decision to go to school and educate yourself has brought you one step closer to where you want to be.”
Those were the words of the Algonquin public relations graduate, who shared her inspiration with about 1,000 fall graduates with their families and friends.
Cockburn had raised $8,000 for Ottawa’s Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. That night, she was nominated for the 2018 national Cision Student Award of Excellence.
The ceremony opened with First nation’s song of encouragement by David Charette. Everyone stood for the graduates’ procession and Sydney Coombs, a performing arts student, sung the Canadian anthem.
After the procession, President Cheryl Jensen was invited to say a few words of wisdom to the students whom she was meeting for the last time that night.
“I want to thank each and every one of you for choosing us,” she said. “I will say with confidence that you chose well and that you can show your degree with a great deal of pride.
“You worked so hard to be where you are today. I know,” Jensen said. “I have been told your stories by your faculties.”
Her advice for each one of them was to be filled with wonder.
“Wonder like my daughter who always wondered how she can help people; now she is a doctor,” she said.
“You can change the world. I believe it is our obligation to give to the community. I urge you to think passionately about those with lack of hope, share your talents and gifts with others. You play an important role in the future of our country.”
She distributed the certificates after ending with Margaret Maed’s quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Patrick Devey, dean of the Centre for Continuing and Online Learning, told the grads that he believes immensely in them, attesting that “these individuals are ready to make a mark in their fields.”
It took their willingness and courage to keep going on to achieve their goals; no matter what the situations were, he said.
About 3,000 students graduated during the three days of the ceremonies.