It took me almost 40 years, but I finally attended a graduation ceremony at Simon Fraser University.
My daughter graduated from SFU this year and received her degree at a convocation ceremony on Thursday. It took place 39 years, almost to the day, after I graduated from the same university. I didn’t attend the ceremony back in 1974, mainly because I was working that day, but also partially due to the fact that I was just tired of school, after 15 straight years of education.
Thursday’s graduation ceremony was colourful and memorable. Hundreds of graduates received diplomas, an honourary degree was conferred on a Canadian senator with a solid record of achievement who actually deserves the title of “honourable,” and a Langley grad (and former Times carrier) spoke eloquently on behalf of all grads.
The senator in question is Kelvin Ogilvie, who is the former president of Acadia University and has a record of incredible achievement in the scientific world.
A member of the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame, he developed the Gene Machine — an automated process for manufacturing DNA. He also invented Ganciclovir, a drug used worldwide to fight infections that occur in weakened immune systems.
He spoke about his humble upbringing in Nova Scotia, and how education made a world of difference to him, from a young age. He was inspiring, and proves that not all Stephen Harper’s appointments to the Senate have been disastrous.
The Langley grad who spoke so eloquently is Bonnie Tulloch, who interestingly enough was one of a small number of grads with a world literature major. Because of this (my daughter also graduated with this major), we had a chance to meet her and her family at a lunch afterwards.
She was featured in the pages of The Times last summer, when she and other lifeguards at Walnut Grove Pool organized a fundraiser called Waves of Compassion for the Canadian Red Cross emergency response programs.
After talking with her and her family, it is clear that she is one of those people who will make the world a better place as a result of her education. As a far-from-objective parent, I believe my daughter will do the same things.
Given all the knowledge and skills that grads gained at SFU and in their earlier education, it is pretty safe to say that a post-secondary education is a big boost for B.C. While not all grads will stay in B.C., many will and all of them have strong connections here.
As the world becomes more of a global village each year, they will spread far and wide and share their knowledge, experience and skills with others in many faraway places.
As taxpayers, we have made a great investment in our universities. Students also make great personal investments and sacrifices to attend university. I think there will be a good return on those investments for them, and society at large.