Brandon University Convocation celebrates Health Studies and Arts graduates

Two female graduates look at each other outside the Healthy Living Centre at BU where a banner hangs, reading Congratulations Graduates.

Brandon University’s Spring Convocation concluded today with ceremonies that celebrated graduates in the Faculties of Health Studies and Arts.

In the morning ceremony, more than 110 Health Studies grads received their degrees in nursing and in psychiatric nursing, followed by more than 130 Arts degrees bestowed in the afternoon ceremony.

Health Studies Oluchukwu Gladness Chijioke referenced family and friends in both Canada and Nigeria as she spoke in the morning ceremony. She asked her fellow nursing and psychiatric nursing grads to save some compassion and care for themselves, as well as for their patients.

“I know it might sound cliché by now but our professors in school could not have said it enough. Practice self care… we as nurses tend to soak in all that trauma we experience in the workplace while forgetting that we also matter,” she said in remarks that were interrupted by applause several times, and which drew a standing ovation from her fellow graduates. “Remember, coffee and energy drinks might help but it is not always the solution. Have healthy coping strategies.”

To the afternoon Arts graduates, valedictorian Renee Ferguson shared that she had not always been comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. She noted that’s just one of the talents graduates develop through studies at Brandon University.

“I think we’ve more or less come to an agreement that we want the world to change and have had many conversations to this effect. We all have different ideas and approaches, whether it is through continued study and knowledge building, engaging in activism in our communities, volunteering where our hard work is needed most, or anything in between,” she said. “I really do think we have the organizing capacity and the willingness to carve out a world where everyone gets to feel safe and valued.”

Several awards and other recognitions were presented today, including honorary doctorates to Elder Norman Fleury and to Weiming Zhao.

Fleury is a sixth-generation Michif who is known nationally for his efforts to preserve the Michif language, stories, history, and culture, and has been active in Métis governance building for 57 years.

“I believe in us. I believe in our nation. And belief in one’s self is so important. I give thanks to my ancestors in the spiritual world because that’s where the oral culture comes from… Language and identity is a process that leads us on in life,” said Fleury, who said that the honorary degree was in several ways a return to Brandon University, where he introduced Canada’s first Michif language program. “I see graduates here today and I recognize some names and I honour all of you today.

Another honorary degree was presented to Weiming Zhao, a plein air painter born in China who came to Brandon University to study in the early 1990s and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree exactly 30 years ago this month. In the 2024 Convocation, he was recognized for his ongoing cultural and artistic efforts, including his commitment to completing a new painting every day for the past 20 years.

“With a portable easel on my back and a paint rush in my hand I traversed Brandon and beyond capturing the ordinary moments of life unfolding before me. Through my art, I strive to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to bring order to the chaos and to touch up the divine,” said Zhao. “Graduates as you embark on your own journey, remember… Even amidst the ordinary,  an extraordinary life can unfold. Embrace each moment with heart and mind and you will find that greatness lies in every day.”

Other award winners included:

  • The Senate Award for Excellence in Teaching — presented to Dr. Kathryn Chachula, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Studies.
  • The BU Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Teaching — presented to Dr. Steven Robinson, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts.
  • The Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Community Service — presented to Dr. Christopher J. Schneider, Professor in the Faculty of Arts.

Today’s ceremonies followed two ceremonies yesterday, for the Faculties of Education and Science, and the School of Music. In total, about 560 students graduated from BU this year as part of the Class of 2024.


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