Mission Hill founder shares words of wisdom to fall TRU grads

By Vanessa Ybarra
October 13, 2017 - 5:17pm Updated: October 13, 2017 - 6:10pm

KAMLOOPS — TRU held its fall convocation at the Tournament Capital Centre Friday morning.

Friday's convocation at the TCC brought a mix of emotion for TRU graduates.

"I was really nervous," said Alina Sopizhuk who received her Masters of Business Administration. "I woke up this morning, I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep."

"It feels really nice," said Kosal Sunkara who graduated with his Post-Bachelor of Diploma in International Business. "I'm relieved after two years of school it's over."

While the event is a chance for more than than two hundred students to finally receive their degrees and diplomas, it's also a chance to take in some words of wisdom before setting foot into the work world.

This year TRU granted an Honorary Degree to Anthony von Mandl.

"To be here and to watch all the graduates and the excitement and to receive an Honorary Doctorate from TRU it's something I never could've imagined," said von Mandl.

Von Mandl worked as a wine importer and beer distributor for years.

In the early 1980s he founded the Mission Hill Winery in West Kelowna in what was the start of the now booming Okanagan wine industry.

"It's something I dreamed of," said von Mandl. "I had a vision but never even dreamed we'd end up with 300 wineries and be able to create a wine industry that's starting to become known around the world."

Today Mission Hill Winery takes in $2 billion in sales every year and has garnered countless national awards.

"You have to have a dream," said von Mandl. "You can't let anyone take that away. You absolutely need perserverance and to believe in yourself, that's really I think one of the key messages."

This year TRU received 15 nominations for its Honorary Degree program.

TRU President Alan Shaver says von Mandl's story mirrored what TRU stands for.

"The wine industry was there, but he came along with a vision that this could be world class," said Shaver. "He didn't just have the vision, he had the nerve to go out and do it, and so that kind of achievement and that kind of excellence is what we look for."

Von Mandl's words left students inspired and ready to break into the work force.

"As he said, pursue your career not based on the money you'll be getting but on the dream or the passion you have," said Sunkara.

"I love stories like von Mandl's that really inspire you," said Sopizhuk. "When I see real life stories like that I know I can achieve more. I wish we could have more speakers like that."

"Being young, and being in that sense naive and having a belief in letting nothing standing in your way, you can accomplish so much and that's what I see in these graduates today," added von Mandl. 

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