Although graduates cannot be together to celebrate their spring convocation on campus, the University of Waterloo hopes to make their achievement a more memorable experience with a personalized video.

The videos were made using a product created by Vidyard, a video platform for business based in Kitchener, that was founded by two Waterloo alumni. Michael Litt (BASc ’11) and Devon Galloway (BASc ’10) founded Vidyard in 2010.

“The best part is knowing that even through these tough times, we can hopefully provide a memorable experience to thousands of students,” said Michael Litt. “Graduating from university is something you always think about. It's in TV shows, movies, and for most people it's the end of our academic career.” 

Each graduate received an email on the day of their faculty’s virtual convocation with the video that features their name, faculty and degree credentials. Faculty, staff and senior leaders at the University hope the personalized video can be shared with family and friends as a way to honour the new graduate at a time when large gatherings are banned due to physical distancing.

For Litt, convocation week is bittersweet since the passing of his own father, an electrician who worked on-site when Waterloo’s engineering buildings were being constructed. His father was terminally ill with cancer when Litt graduated in 2011.

“My Dad's dream was that I would graduate as an engineer from UW,” says Litt. He would take me to the building site when I was little to ‘see where I would go to school.’ By the time I convocated, he was terminally ill with cancer. I had considered dropping out on a few occasions, but his dream kept me motivated,” recalls Litt. “He never applied undue pressure. He was always supportive.”

While Litt was in his engineering undergrad at Waterloo he bought his father a one-litre beer stein which his father placed upside down and ready to fill the day his son received his degree. “We did drink that beer,” said Litt. “I'll never forget the look of pride on his face.”

With so many Waterloo alumni contributing to the success of Vidyard, co-founder Devon Galloway is pleased that the company is able to contribute to this year’s virtual convocation. He remembers the joy of reconnecting with all of his classmates at his own ceremony in 2010.  “It was awesome to learn what others were doing; how they were starting their careers and moving to new places,” says Galloway.