Graduates celebrate accomplishments at Fall Convocation

Cindy MacDougall

Royal Roads celebrated its 40th convocation with graduates from many backgrounds, united in their achievement and their determination to change lives.  

The Royal Theatre in downtown Victoria hummed with excitement Nov. 15 as graduates prepared for convocation, donning academic regalia and greeting friends.

Francis Harrison and his Master of Arts in Human Security and Peacebuilding cohort helped each other into their black robes and blue hoods, identical except for the medals on Harrison’s chest. Harrison is a retired military police corporal and a decorated peacekeeper who served in Rwanda.

“My experiences there became my motivation to take this course, to make a difference,” Harrison said. “And now I want to go back to work to make that difference.”

The morning and afternoon ceremonies honoured 800 graduates who have earned degrees, certificates or diplomas in the Faculty of Management or in the Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences, bringing the number of the university’s alumni to more than 24,000 alumni worldwide.

Victoria Ntomola graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, after taking a break from her education to become a parent.

“I needed to get my BSc finished, for me and for my baby,” she said. “This seemed like a perfect pathway to do that, with the 12 months’ compressed program. And it was very hands on as well.”

Royal Roads granted honorary degrees to poet-philosopher David Whyte and children’s rights advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. Eric Charman received the Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award.

“One of the values I certainly have learned in my education and my career is to be open to difference and to be open to another way of thinking,” Turpel-Lafond said in her address. “Education is fundamentally about being vulnerable to something that might be very different.”

In his remarks, honorary degree recipient David Whyte recited his poem “Finisterre” for the graduates and compared their education to a pilgrimage toward their future.

Eric Charman, recipient of the Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award, extolled to the graduates the benefits of community service. “I urge everyone to find time to put back into your chosen field of endeavour and to put back energetically into the needs of your community,” he said.