Convocation 2019: Seeking Balance, Shalom, and Community for the Road Ahead

A treasured tradition at Grebel centres on the celebration of all students who have been connected to the College over their university career. Whether these students lived in residence or associated, took courses in Music or Peace and Conflict Studies, or achieved master’s degrees in Theological Studies or Peace and Conflict Studies, the Grebel Convocation Celebration is a time to acknowledge the achievements and connections of each individual. On April 14, a crowd of around 400 friends and family members marked the end of a journey and the beginning of a new path for about 55 undergraduates and 20 graduates in attendance.

“All of us are impressed by you and by the community you’ve created here at Grebel these past few years,” announced President Marcus Shantz as he welcomed everyone to the service. “We’re impressed by your academic accomplishments, by how you’ve supported and welcomed each other, and by the various ways you’ve expressed faith, created community, and made room for differences.” Marcus advised the new graduates to “explore the backroads—metaphorically and literally. Don’t assume that you’re lost—maybe you’re supposed to be there. The backroads could be where you discover how to offer your best to a world that needs you; where you find your calling, your vocation, and your home.”

Angela KroneAngela Krone, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Nanotechnology, was nominated by her classmates to speak as undergraduate valedictorian. “Balance is one of the hardest lessons to learn in life, and we certainly have had many opportunities to practice,” Angela reflected, referencing the many areas of student life that require give-and-take and constant adjustment. “The idea of balance sounds so simple and scientific—too much or too little on one side of a scale and it will fall. But the thing about life, is it’s not a simple scale. There are more than two sides to fill, and it’s not always a this-or-that decision. And the analogy doesn’t warn you of the dangers of filling both sides of your scale with more than you can handle.”

“As we prepare to leave this place,” she continued, “I hope we all take a small piece of Grebel wherever we go next. We have had such a privilege to live together, learn together, grow together, and make memories together. As life goes on, I hope we all continue to find our balance and stick to it, make every today worth remembering, and embrace the changes that are to come.”

As part of the service, students shared about their future plans. Next steps ranged from pursuing further studies, searching for work, starting new jobs, traveling, and a few weddings. Several people mentioned the “backroads” previously touched on by the President.

Rachel WallaceFollowing the recognition of the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies graduates and the Master of Theological Studies graduates, MTS graduand Rachel Wallace offered the graduate valedictory address, focusing on the idea of shalom.

“As I’ve been reflecting on Grebel and the intersection of Theology and Peace and Conflict studies, the concept of shalom is one I keep returning to,” she noted. “Shalom is a Hebrew word which encompasses peace, harmony, well-being, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare, and tranquility. My Grebel experience has encompassed many of these qualities. The pursuit of peace is the obvious starting point here, as named in “peace” and conflict studies, and as a primary tenet of Mennonite theology. I have experienced shalom in the diversity of people and ideas that are accepted and celebrated here, coming together harmoniously in classrooms and around dining tables. I have experienced shalom as staff, students, and faculty gather together for delicious and nourishing fresh-baked bread, singing grace in harmony at community suppers. I’ve experienced shalom as professors and fellow students have expressed genuine care and concern for me as a person. As I reflect on my time at Grebel, it has planted within me an imagination and desire to participate as best I can in cultivating shalom as I move on to what is next. As you step out into whatever is ahead for you, remember the spirit of shalom that we have experienced here and cultivate it in the places you go.”

Dorothy Nyambi, President and CEO of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) gave this year’s convocation address, focusing on the importance of community. She is an advocate for blended financial initiatives in the international development sector and a champion of women’s rights around the world, and in her speech she emphasized the benefits of values-based decisions. “As you leave Grebel today, make connections that matter,” she advised students. “Form community that inspires knowledge, leadership, creativity, generosity and responsible citizenship. Be intentional about how you form community. Seek out new friends. Foster and root yourself in community. One of the most vital ways to sustain ourselves is by building a community where we know we are not alone.”

Dorothy Nyambi

“Along your journey,” she continued, “take the time to consider what values you want to inform your choices. Live with purpose. Ultimately, living with purpose and intentionality is what will give you the greatest satisfaction in life. If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story, and turn your story into something bigger—something bigger than you, and something that really matters.”
And to our students, Marcus offered these parting words: “Wherever your paths lead you, we’re glad they brought you to Grebel for the past few years. We’re here to say goodbye, and to wish you God’s blessing for the roads ahead.”

Class of 2019 

Graduating class of undergraduates

2019 Graduates (not all graduates are pictured): Ghasem Nailovich Ali, Bai, Lilian Banh, Kristopher Barber, Talamon Bechard, Katie Bentz, Joseph Bergin, Michael Timothy Epp Born, Victoria Lynn Borys, Amanda Nettie Botts, David Brebenea, Jackson Brown, Nathan Bush, Candace Bustard, Kai Butterfield, Chelsea Campbell, Sara Camplin, Scott Carere, Praanee Chandrasegaram, Ashley Chaves, Miranda A Chicoyne, Alexandra Daley, Ryan Dunham, Andrew Dyck, Sarah Dyck, Jessie James Estwick, Jennifer Farlow, Sara Fontes, Jesse Friesen, Luke Froese, Alyssa Nicole Gee, Mary Gopanchuk, Victoria Greening, Julia Hall, Taylor Katie Ann Hendry, Megan Hiebert, Jessica Ho, Allison Hopper, Mackenzie Huber, Hannah Madeleine Sadouski James, Noah Janzen, Lynea B Kaethler, Amal Cyriac Kappen, Misha Khorramshahi, Lydia Kim, Kieran Klassen, Marie Koechl, Stefany Kraft, Angela Krone, Alexandra Katharina Rose Langwieder, Brooklyn Lester, Stephanie Leung, Andrea Linke Driedger, Emily Loewen, Miguel Louisy, David Loukidelis, Edgar Hon-Lam Ma, Sebastian Malton, David Mamujee, Chantal Martel, Daniel Isaiah Martin, Mikayla Grace Dorothy McCrory, Veronika E. Mikolajewski, Tyler Misener, Megan Moore, Farzeen Naqvi, Lucia Ostache, Alison So-young Park, Rebecca Joy Persoon, Tessa Plakidas, Keren Rashish, Peter Reesor, Kimberly Rempel, Joseph Reusing, Rebecca Rossi, Mikhaila Rowaan, Alex Rudy, Brandon Sanders, Emily Jean Savoy, Daniel Schuurman, Kenneth William Schwartzel, Anneke Sears-Stryker, Devin Skolud, Jonathan Smith, Jordan Snyder, Matt Steinman, Sage Streight, Zachary Strike, Janet Swarts, Andrew Tran, Elisa Umuhoza, Chelsea VanderMeer, Andrew Welsh, Nicolas Werschler, Mark Whyte, Nathan Wiebe Neufeldt, Tyrone Allan Jordan Winfield, Isaac Winterfeld, Kayla Dawn Wright, Sarah Wright, Sonia Olivia Zettle

MTS Class of 2019 

MTS Graduates

MTS Graduates with faculty: Sarah Brjnas, Samantha Coelho, Kyung Young Kim, Peter Kranenburg, Joshua Luke Kuehnel, Bruno Siqueria Peitl, Seanna Lynn Sheffield, Rachel Wallace

MPACS Class of 2019 

MPACS Graduates

MPACS Graduates with faculty (not all graduates are pictured): Kristina Bartold, Rhea Kristi Daniels, Leanna Beverly Feltham, Katelynn Folkerts, Kelsey Gallagher, Catherine Garacho, Jacob Andrew Gaudaur, Boon Khoo, Catherine Leblond, Apolline Montoya, Katie Noonan, Laurel Spring O'Gorman, Kanishia Mensah, Rizwan, Jamal Rohani, Tanveer Hussain Tiwana, Elena Tkacheva, Volpe de Carvalho Ferreira