Valedictorians show many routes to success at Brandon University Convocation

Graduate wave to friends and family.

Brandon University’s Convocation 2023 concluded today with ceremonies that focused on student achievement. Grads from the Faculty of Health Studies and the Faculty of Arts crossed the stage and received their degrees, following ceremonies yesterday that celebrated grads in the Faculty of Science, School of Music, and Faculty of Education.

At each ceremony, speakers like BU Chancellor Mary Jane McCallum, BU President David Docherty, Knowledge-Keeper Barb Blind, and BU Alumni Association Vice-President Rhoni Mohanraj paid tribute to the graduates, congratulating them on their success, celebrating all they had overcome, and encouraging them towards their bright futures the future.

Each ceremony also featured valedictorians — selected in each faculty for their top academic achievement and community commitment — addressing their fellow graduates. While each valedictorian has reached a pinnacle at Convocation, they took different paths to get there and have varied and diverse plans for the future.

Janice Dutchak

In the Faculty of Arts, valedictorian Janice Dutchak graduated with a major in sociology, and a double minor in political science and psychology. She completed her honours thesis on the formation of online deviant subcultures and has also studied sexual violence in the news media.

While making the President’s and Dean’s honours lists each year and being awarded the Justice System Certificate in 2021, Dutchak also helped create the Brandon University Sociological Society, and worked as a student marking assistant. Dutchak looks forward to achieving her dream of becoming a lawyer and will attend law school at the University of Saskatchewan.

Andrew Brereton-Waller

The Faculty of Education valedictorian spoke on stage about losing his father, about dropping out of university, and about doubting himself. Now, Andrew Brereton-Waller can add an Education degree to his previous Bachelor of Science degree from BU, majoring in mathematics. Raised in Virden, Brereton-Waller has received the Manitoba Association of Mathematics Teachers Scholarship and has been a member of the President’s Honour Society in both of his years in Education.

Olufunke Sophia Adeleye

The Faculty of Health Studies valedictorian Olufunke Sophia Adeleye came to BU in 2018 from Nigeria to pursue a Bachelor of Nursing degree, after being inspired by her father, who was a medical doctor.

While in pre-nursing, she discovered a passion for advocacy, and she spoke to her fellow Arts graduates about the importance of being honest and true to oneself while also learning from extra activities. Olufunke joined the BU Students’ Union as Health Studies Director and later became BUSU President. She held that role for three years while maintaining a GPA above 3.5. Olufunke is a recipient of the Canadian Federation of Students Outstanding Black Student Leader award, the BU International Undergraduate Student Scholarship and the Act Brandon Club Scholarship.

Azaria Neuschwander

Graduating with a double major in vocal and piano performance and a minor in theatre, School of Music valedictorian Azaria Neuschwander has spent the last four-and-a-half years making the most of her time at Brandon University. She was part of the Music Students’ Council, took part in several theatrical productions, taught and played for students, participated in the Brandon Festival of the Arts, and often performed as a soloist. Following this degree, Neuschwander plans to travel to Germany and pursue a master’s degree in vocal performance.

Kieran Taylor

Kieran Taylor, the Faculty of Science valedictorian, is graduating with an honours degree with a biology major and dual minor in chemistry and mathematics. Kieran received the NSERC USRA award for research that diagnosed numerous soy pathogens and acted as the springboard for his honours thesis, where he would create and test several PCR primer sets meant to diagnose the soy pathogen Cercospora kikuchii. Taylor plans to pursue a career in botany.

All told, this year’s graduating Class of 2023 welcomed 559 new BU alumni, celebrated at four separate ceremonies across two days. All Convocation ceremonies were livestreamed courtesy WCGtv, and archives versions will be available for the next three months under the Free Preview section of


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