Convocation 2023: Transformation Happens in Community

At the end of April, Grebel’s graduating class of 2023 celebrated the end of their university journeys with one of the College’s beloved traditions—Convocation. Although many students had yet to finish final exams and papers, the afternoon served as a congratulations recognizing the hard work, drive, and dedication that undergraduate and graduate students had put toward their degree. Alongside their peers, families, faculty, and staff, graduates were blessed into their new beginnings with a heartfelt goodbye and warm wishes.

“You’ve each been important members of our College community for the past few years and we are grateful to have known you,” said Grebel President Marcus Shantz. After a territorial acknowledgment that touched on the Mennonite history of settlement in Waterloo Region, he introduced Jean Becker, Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Relations at the University of Waterloo, who gave the keynote address.

Jean BeckerFrom climate change prevention to reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, Jean acknowledged that the world needs help, and that she can count on Grebelites to work toward a transformation. “Armed with the education you have received here, with a focus on justice and peace, I hope that you go out in the world and be a helper,” said Jean.

As more than 100 students crossed the stage, each shared their plans, hopes, and dreams after graduation. From further education, travel, marriage, and budding careers, to having coffee with loved ones, this year’s graduating class aspires to make a difference in the world.

A bright, golden sunflower sat upon the stage to honour Kaitlyn Roth, an undergraduate student who passed away in 2022 and would have graduated this year.

Hanne KuhnerHanne Kuhnert, graduating with a BA in Psychology and Business, was the undergraduate valedictorian and delivered an inspiring speech to her peers. “There is a lot of pressure in our society to be independent—to be self-made, struggle, sacrifice and take pride in what you have achieved without help. I don’t think it is worth it,” said Hanne. “Community is hard. It takes commitment, trust, compromise, and humility. It requires honesty, vulnerability, forgiveness, and acceptance. As we have learned from our time here, maintaining relationships can be challenging, but it is so rewarding. I truly believe it is our best chance at living happy, healthy, and sustainable lives. I encourage you to help one another share the load of life—both the joys and the sorrows.”

Mollee MouaMollee Moua, a Master of Theological Studies graduate, delivered the valedictory speech on behalf of the MTS and Master of Peace and Conflict Studies graduands. Her speech was filled with gratitude for the support and sacrifices that help graduate students complete their studies throughout life’s challenges.

“I am sure every person here has received encouragement and inspiration during their time at Grebel,” shared Mollee. “I have been inspired to think critically and differently; to not accept things as they are. I have been inspired to speak up and to speak the truth as I have seen and experienced it. It is through the encouragement, honesty, and vulnerability that I have experienced through community that has empowered me to stand here in front of you all. It takes a community to raise a graduate student.”

A song and prayer of gratitude and blessing were shared to mark this momentous transition in the lives of students. “Parting ways at graduation does not mark the end of the Grebel experience, but rather the beginning of new opportunities to share the transformation that happens here with the wider world,” said Grebel’s Interim Chaplain Jessica Reesor Rempel. “Together, as a Grebel community, gathered in this place and scattered throughout the world, may each of you be blessed as you seek wisdom, nurture faith, and pursue justice and peace.”

2023 MTS Grebel Grads in line for photo

2023 MTS GRADUATES: (l-r back row) Jacqueline Haycraft, Laurel Rounds Fretz, Zachary Stefaniuk, Jared Vander Meulen. (l-r front row) Clayton Robert Conrad Culham, Mollee Moua, Niamh Brown, Bonnie Drudge. (Not pictured) Rosemarie Chambers, Peter van Oordt

2023 MPACS Grads in grad gowns lined up for photo

2023 MPACS GRADUATES: (l-r back row) Zerihun Addisu Kinate, Nicholas J Bejarano, Rebaz Khursheed, Trish Owens. (l-r front row) Daisy Georgia Bilous, Fariba Atkin, Sue Dick, Annie Oldenhof, Sydney Thorburn, Sidra Khan, Jennifer Deborah Smith. (Not pictured) Qudsia Hussain Alvi, Alli Cobb, Rafaella Creus Cordovez, Madeline Docherty, Brandon Gascho, Tamara Kotenko, Alexandra McDonald, Del Plummer

Watch the full 2023 Convocation service here.