Convocation 2021: We Are Resilience

Convocation is a time when the Grebel community gathers to celebrate achievements and successes and to share hopes and dreams for the future. All graduate and undergraduate students who connected with the College over the course of their studies, whether through residence or one of Grebel’s programs—Music, Peace and Conflict Studies, Master of Theological Studies, and Master of Peace and Conflict Studies—were invited to this celebration.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 Convocation took place on Sunday, May 16 in an online format, featuring heartfelt speeches from valedictorians and administrators, and sharing from students. Zoom receptions that were held after the event gave graduates the chance to connect in a more informal setting. Participants shared stories, fond memories, and laughs about their unforgettable Grebel experiences.

“We want to celebrate all of the hard work that has gone into your degrees,” said Grebel President Marcus Shantz, “the hours of study, pounding out essays and papers, the labs, the capstone projects, the recitals, and the exams.”

ed janzen

Ed Janzen, who has served as College Chaplain at Grebel for 22 years and will be retiring this summer, gave the Convocation address, an emotional speech focusing on resilience. “We are resilience,” Ed said. “Resilience is a group effort. Together, we can and have pushed our way through this pandemic and found hope and joy, even in the bleakest of days.”

BoushrahPeace and Conflict Studies graduate Boushrah Fanous was the undergraduate valedictorian. One word that stuck with Boushrah over her university experience that she took and held close to her heart was the word ‘holistic’. “To be stronger, we need to know each other, to understand each other. We need to celebrate our similarities and share our differences. To love each other and the world we share, we must have respect. And that respect comes with knowledge,” she explained. “So, I encourage us today and every day, to get out there. Let’s take on a holistic attitude. Withhold judgment and make the unfamiliar familiar and the uncomfortable comfortable. Learn and keep on learning. And just because we now have a degree, does not mean we are done. Because we will continue to learn until the last page—not of the chapter, but the book.”

Paul OkoyeThe graduate valedictorian was Paul Okoye, an MTS graduate. In his speech, after reminiscing on Grebel experiences, Paul focused on the reality and catastrophic events of the world we are living in today— the pandemic, phobias, racism—and what we can do to change it. “The best gift an education offers is freedom—freedom to think for yourself. An unrestrained freedom to engage in a world of ideas, holding lightly to what we know, and eagerly thirsting to listen to others. A freedom that seeks to create an equitable world, where all are seen, welcomed and loved, by engaging with all people as true equals, and prioritizing the marginalized.”

As graduating Grebelites move on to the next stage, many plan on furthering their education by pursuing another degree at other universities across Canada, often with future goals to better society. Similarly, those with new graduate degrees plan on finding and continuing jobs in church-related contexts or in civil society organizations to apply their expertise and help people in need.

We are proud of each and every one of our graduates. They are resilient, patient, and our main source of hope. “And whatever your future plans are,” Marcus added, “I wish you success, good fortune, and God’s blessing.”

Watch the full 2021 Convocation service: