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Convocation Offers Hope for the Future

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Grebel class of 2018

Each April, the community at Conrad Grebel University College gathers together to recognize the achievements of all graduating students who have been involved in the College’s residence or academic programs, at both graduate and undergraduate levels. The Convocation ceremony took a surprise turn this year, as a rare mid-April ice storm shut down the University of Waterloo and Grebel for three days. With the celebration scheduled to take place right in the middle of the storm, the event was cancelled for everyone’s safety. About 70 students and a few of their families held an impromptu gathering at Grebel.  This provided an opportunity for them to hear valedictorian Jared Baribeau deliver his address. Jared left Canada the next day to work in Cambodia for Demine Robotics.

“University is learning about how to learn,” Jared reflected. “And the exciting thing for me, is that if we turn that into a lifestyle, it will continue to grow for the rest of our lives. Graduating here in Canada, at Grebel, and the University of Waterloo, we find ourselves in a position of immense opportunity to right the wrongs out there. I’m so incredibly excited to see what we all achieve.”

Since Convocation is such an important event at Grebel, the service was rescheduled for the following week, in hopes that some of the 140 undergraduates and 28 graduate students could still make it. So on April 22, approximately 75 students (some the same as the week prior, and some different), along with many family members, assembled for round two of celebrations!

Building on the reality that life does not always unfold as we plan, President Marcus Shantz offered words of wisdom to the crowd. “You have your plans, and plans are important. But, as I’m sure you already know, much of life is about muddling through. Showing up despite everything and smiling—making the best of it. Finding your friends and your people. Summoning flexibility and resilience, patience and grace.”

“All of us here are impressed by you, and by the community you’ve created here at Grebel these past few years,” continued Marcus. “We’re impressed by your academic accomplishments, by how you’ve supported each other, welcomed each other, and by the various ways you’ve expressed faith and made room for differences. What you’ve become together has inspired us as faculty and staff to continue our work with hope for the future.”

Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) student Tyler Cox was chosen to represent both the MPACS and the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) graduates. “Completing a master’s degree encompasses many high points: laughter, accomplishment, and personal transformation. It requires commitment, discipline, and perseverance. It carries with it hope for the future and helps us establish a solid foundation for both our professional and personal lives.”

“As MPACS and MTS students, we haven’t chosen the most linear path for our lives,” Tyler added. “We’ve chosen to be trained in disciplines that understand there is a need for justice, peace, and love in the world. As such, these disciplines grapple with complex questions. We understand that change is time consuming and that the constructive choices we make today, may not bear fruit for generations.”

Retiring Music Professor Ken Hull gave the convocation address, focusing on the idea of vocation—a calling, or a life purpose or direction that has not been entirely your own choice, but something to which you are being drawn in response to what you have discerned or felt or heard. “It’s not just a matter of coming to understand yourself, but also of understanding the needs of the world in which you live,” he explained. “Vocation requires something messier and more creative from us, and this negotiation with the realities of the world as we find it is actually an important part of the process of clarifying and claiming your vocation. It is energizing; it feeds you, it carries with it a sense of rightness, being at home, being in the right place and time.”

“Why does all this vocation stuff matter?” Ken concluded. “Because living out a sense of vocation is both a gift to yourself and a gift to the world. Vocation locates our life as part of a story larger than ourselves. It carries the promise of new levels of energy, meaning, and fulfillment both for you and for the world. In a time when feeling comfortable is highly valued, it may require moving out of your comfort zone. At a time when being safe seems to be one of our highest goals, it may call for risk and vulnerability. In a materialistic culture, where importance is calculated by most people in terms of financial reward, it may require sacrifice. Ultimately, the only person who can give you permission to make truly vocational choices is you.”

Master of Theological Studies Class of 2018

Master of Theological Studies Class of 2018

Master of Peace and Conflict Studies Class of 2018

Master of Peace and Conflict Studies Class of 2018

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