Students and staff set sights on the future at fall convocation

By Jill Sperling
October 14, 2016 - 3:04pm Updated: October 14, 2016 - 5:26pm

KAMLOOPS — Thompson Rivers University held their fall convocation Friday morning, Oct. 14. The event was an opportunity for students to reflect on their years of study and look forward to what the future holds. 

"You have worked hard, you have persevered through the difficult times, and you have succeeded," TRU President Alan Shaver said, addressing the students. 

Graduates beaming with pride and excitement for the future crossed the stage to accept their well deserved diplomas.

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"You are privileged to have earned an excellent education and you have a lot to contribute, and so you have a duty to give back to others and your communities," Shaver said. "So I ask you to continue your transformation by becoming a life long learner."

As the students move on to the next stage of their lives, so too will Chancellor Wally Oppal, who presided in his final convocation at the university. 

"To participate in the role has really been an awesome experience for me," he said. "I've enjoyed it. Just to meet with all the kids when they graduate and shake their hands, I talk to all of them, and it's a lot of fun doing that."

The 76-year-old lawyer was first appointed chancellor in 2011, and has shaken the hands and taken the time to talk to nearly 10,000 graduates in 33 convocation ceremonies. 

As Oppal addressed the graduates he chuckled, "maybe the university will be pleased that I'm gone because the ceremonies will be a lot quicker once I'm out of here." 

While Oppal was recognized for his time as chancellor, it was the students who were celebrated for their great accomplishments.

Assetou Coulibaly received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in front of loved ones who traveled from Nigeria and Pakistan to support her. 

"I've had the time of my life," Coulibaly said. "I've gotten to meet so many people, make so many friends, and family members, and most of all I just got to make an impact on my university, and that's the best thing you could ask for." 

Other may not have traveled a long distance for their education, but have certainly came a long way to earn it. Katherine McParland grew up in foster care and experienced life on the streets for three years. Now she has her Bachelor of Social Work. 

"I know the stats show that today I've joined six per cent of former youth in care to achieve a post secondary degree, so it's a real honour," McParland said. 

As a youth homeless manager with Interior Community Services McParland has already accomplished so much, but she, like her fellow graduates, is not done yet.

"I'd like to achieve my masters in social work and change the world." 

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