Convocation: 1,492 degrees of success

Friday, June 13, 2014

many orange cupcakes spell ARTS

At the Arts convocation ceremonies this week proud families and professors saw a bumper crop of 1,303 bachelor’s degrees, 169 master’s degrees, and 20 doctoral degrees conferred, making the day “such a meaningful event for our most recent graduates” said Doug Peers, Dean of Arts.

Taking on the challenge to represent the diversity of learning experiences for undergraduates in the Faculty, Amanda Cloutier (BA Hons. French with a Teaching Specialization) Valedictorian for the morning ceremony, told her colleagues:

Amanda CloutierValedictorian Amanda Cloutier

“While you may leave here with the same thing written on your degree as someone across the room, what makes your degree unique is the adventures that you undertook; the failures you have encountered, and the successes you have fought for during your undergraduate years. For some, these wild adventures were working with skeletal forensics, learning about Zeus’s innumerable wives, mastering the phonetic alphabet, perfecting one’s voice techniques, taking field trips, constructing the set for a production, landing that auditing co-op job, travelling abroad, developing film photography, writing a thesis about pragmatism and discrimination, performing in an ensemble […] It is these experiences, in combination with the traditional aspects of earning a degree, which make us so successful.”

Anticipating her role as Valedictorian for the afternoon ceremony, Gwen MacNeil (BA Hons. Peace and Conflict Studies and History) commented before convocation, “…the past five years have been devoted to UW, and to be able to represent my fellow Arts students one last time in such an amazing way is an honour. I love Waterloo, I love the Faculty of Arts, and I love all of the unique minds that I’ve been able to meet.”

President and leaders of Waterloo at convocationLeft to right: Chancellor Prem Watsa, President and Vice-Chancellor Feridun Hamdullahpur, Secretary Logan Atkinson

Coincidentally, both valedictory addresses spoke of the hidden benefits of failure in the learning process. First acknowledging the role of past generations in making a university education possible for the Class of 2014, Gwen said in her speech, “I know failure is an awkward and necessary part of life. I also know, however, that failure, no matter how big or small, is an inherent part of success because failure is success if we learn from it."

Arts is indeed awash with success stories. Here are some that were honoured on Wednesday:

Akash Kapoor, Accounting and Financial Management, was awarded the Governor General’s Silver Medal and was commended for his “unique combination of academic and co-op excellence.”

Stephanie Chu, BA Hons. in Psychology, was awarded the Alumni Gold Medal, with lengthy commendations including the comment, “her originality is what sets this student apart from other stellar students.”

Mandip Grewal, BA Join Hons. Legal Studies and Political Science, received the Alumni Medal and is noted for having won eight scholarships and awards during her undergraduate studies.

Donald Craig Love, PhD English, received the award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies.

The following graduates from BA Honours programs across the Faculty received the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award for their discipline:

  • happy family take photos at convocationCindy Zhang, Accounting and Financial Management
  • Amanda Conlon, Anthropology
  • Andrew St. Thomas, Classical Studies
  • James Miniou, Drama
  • Fulei Liu, Economics
  • Natalie Dewan, English Language and Literature
  • Audrey D'Astous, Fine Arts
  • James Lang, French Studies
  • row of grads in gownsBeier  Lin, History
  • Virginia Pella, Independent Studies
  • Rebecca Sim, Legal Studies
  • Darren Feenstra, Medieval Studies
  • Jane Honek, Music
  • Emily Mininger, Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Douglas Guilbeault,  Philosophy
  • Flora Yu, Political Science
  • graduate and friend pose for the cameraSara Brubacher, Religious Studies
  • Derek Straatsma, Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies
  • Charlene Ewing, Social Development Studies
  • Sabrina Mysicka, Sociology
  • Skaidra Puodziunas, Speech Communication

Professors Jane Buyers (Fine Arts), David John (German), and Ted McGee (English) were each bestowed the title Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

Professors Christina Vester (Classical Studies) and Anindya Sen (Economics) were formally presented with their Distinguished Teacher Awards that were announced earlier this spring.

Benjamin Ries was given the Arts Young Alumni Award.

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