“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Yorkville University recently celebrated the accomplishments of more than 400 newly minted Class of 2022 and 2023 Bachelor of Business Administration grads during a pair of convocation ceremonies in New Westminster, B.C.
“This is a convocation – it literally means a beginning,” Yorkville University’s Provost and Executive Vice President, Dr. Allyson Lowe, told the graduates who were on hand at the Anvil Centre on Thursday, June 29 to receive their business degrees with specializations in Accounting, Energy Management, General, Project Management, and Supply Chain Management.
“Today, each of you is beginning a new part of your journey as you mark this extraordinary achievement and begin or deepen your professional lives, enhanced by the learning and the experiences and the friends you made during your Yorkville education.”
Distinguished Speaker Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes
In her keynote address, Yorkville University President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes recalled the day more than 40 years ago when she herself was sitting where the members of this year’s graduating class were in that moment – awaiting her turn to cross the convocation stage to collect her own bachelor’s degree in business.
“I clearly recall trying so hard to keep my eyes open, as one speech followed after another. You see, I had just got a job as an assistant manager at a restaurant chain and, in truth, I was exhausted,” she said.
“I’d had endless days of training – my hands cut from peeling shrimp and fanning lobster tails. I’d even had shifts in what they called the dish pit. With my business degree, I was wondering what I’d got myself into.”
But, she said, it was that seemingly insignificant job that helped teach her some of the incredibly valuable lessons that have continued to serve her throughout her career – perhaps the most important of which is the fact that leaders can be found in every role, no matter how small, and in every organization.
“People who bring the best of themselves to every task, no matter what the job. People who are curious, wondering how can we do this better? People who are creative, who come up with practical suggestions for improvement. People who are kind, who are encouraging of others, and who help lift the morale of the entire team,” Christensen Hughes said.
“Honestly, if you aspire to be one of those people, if you bring those attitudes to your jobs, I promise you, you will be noticed and your career will flourish.”
Indeed, Christensen Hughes also went on to highlight the many skills Yorkville’s BC grads are bringing with them to the workforce – armed now, as they are, with their Bachelor of Business Administration degrees.
“In your particular studies, you learned to dissect problems and opportunities, creatively identify solutions, develop sustainable and ethical action plans for success. You’ve learned to develop persuasive arguments, to work effectively with others, and how to manage time and your stress. I also hope you’ve learned about who you are, including your character and who you aspire to become…” she said.
“Perhaps most importantly, you’ve learned how to learn. And that learning, in this complex, ever-changing world, truly never ends.”
BBA Accounting Valedictorian Eesha Pallan
Eesha Pallan, the valedictorian for the BBA Accounting program, paid tribute to the “many months of labour, devotion, and late nights” she and her fellow grads put in in order to reach the “defining milestone” of their graduation day.
For her, the transition from high school to university was one that brought about big changes and a lot of growth – especially when she and her classmates were faced with the unprecedented challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“None of us could have imagined the difficulties that would lie ahead of us when we started our journey at Yorkville. The pandemic required us to change course, rethink what we would learn, and find our way through a world that was undergoing a staggering amount of change,” she said.
“I believe it served as a moral test and a confirmation to our dedication to learning.”
Pallan also reflected on how different it feels now, to be successfully on the other side of her studies with her Bachelor of Business Administration in her hand.
“After getting this degree today, I know how much of a difference I feel. With all the hard work and long hours, we finally did it,” she said, commending her fellow graduates.
“I have an enormous amount of respect for every single person sitting here today. How we all managed to do everything – from school work, to getting a job in a whole new country for a lot of us. From all of this hard work, we have learned a lot about life and about ourselves.
“We, the Class of 2023, have the ability to influence, and we have the skills and the understanding to drive significant change. Let’s dare to dream large!”
BBA Energy Management Valedictorian Sharona Zarbafi
BBA Energy Management valedictorian Sharona Zarbafi likewise took the opportunity to laud her classmates for their “resilience and adaptability” in navigating the online learning environment throughout the pandemic.
She also paid special tribute to her fellow international students, with whom she shared unique hardships.
“We have faced various obstacles in pursuing our dreams, such as feeling homesick, overwhelmed, or exhausted at times. However, two main things helped most of us during this hardship,” she said.
“The first was the endless support of our loved ones, and the second was the exceptional faculty and professors at Yorkville University, who have played a vital role in supporting and guiding us throughout our educational journey…
“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the remarkable faculty and professors at Yorkville University who have shaped our educational experience with their great support and knowledge.”
President’s Awards Winners
The following graduates won the Yorkville University President’s Award for earning the highest cumulative average in their respective graduating classes:
- Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting – Sarah Blakley
- Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting – Katelynn Scott
- Bachelor of Business Administration in Energy Management – Sharona Zarbafi
- Bachelor of Business Administration – General – Alain Champonnois
- Bachelor of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management – Anmoldeep Singh
- Bachelor of Business Administration in Project Management – Ruby Hofer