Yorkville University recently celebrated its largest-ever graduating class in record-setting style, with a gathering of more than 300 graduates and 1,200 of their loved ones at the school’s home base in New Brunswick.
The newly minted Class of 2019 was feted on Friday, June 21 at the Delta Fredericton, where graduates received their Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology, Master of Education in Adult Learning, and Master of Education in Educational Leadership degrees during a pair of ceremonies presided over by Dr. Rick Davey, president of Yorkville University.
“I’ve never been so proud as I am today,” said Davey, noting that Yorkville’s 2019 graduation ceremonies, which took place in Fredericton on the unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik, coincided with National Indigenous Peoples Day.
“This is a proud day for all of you (graduates), but it’s perhaps it’s an even prouder day for your spouses, partners, children and parents, and that’s what makes graduation so terrific,” he added, thanking all those grads who flew in for the day’s events from across nine of Canada’s provinces and the Yukon territory.
During his opening address, Davey also took time to remind graduates of the impact the changing face of post-secondary education has had over this last half-century – particularly on online students such as themselves.
It was a shift, he said, that took first root back in 1969 with the founding of The Open University – a UK-based, early pioneer of the “non-traditional, open-access, and innovative university” model in whose footsteps Yorkville followed.
“The Open University started to introduce delivery methodologies that broke the time and place constraints of traditional university programs,” Davey said, highlighting the institution’s use of correspondence technologies to facilitate the “massive transformation” of higher education from an opportunity for the elite, to a public good available to all those with the ambition to study.
“Today you are graduating from an institution that is based on the same principles of admissions and technological access represented by The Open University – and with a focus on the professional adult learner striving for career advancement and success.”
One such adult learner grateful for the learning opportunities afforded to her via Yorkville’s online offerings was Karen LaRose, the valedictorian of the 2019 Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) graduating class.
“In my time at Yorkville, I have learned so much. I learned a lot about business, yes, but also about myself. I can truly say I am not the same person that started this program two-and-a-half years ago,” said the 43-year-old married mom of two, for whom turning 40 was a major impetus in the decision to go back to school.
“Like many people with a milestone birthday, that was when I took stock of my life…I was comfortable (in my job), but looking ahead for the next 25 years, when I asked if this is what I saw myself doing, the answer was a resounding ‘No.’”
LaRose said her biggest takeaway from her time in Yorkville’s BBA online program was the leadership abilities it instilled in her.
“I told myself going in that I was not taking this degree just to get a piece of paper, that I was here to learn the skills I needed to become a leader,” she said.
“And I now have abilities and strengths I didn’t know I had before – I improved and I succeeded because I really tried.”
Ola Abugharbiyeh, a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MACP) graduate, was likewise thrilled at the world of opportunities her Yorkville degree has opened up for her.
In a valedictory speech delivered on the seventh anniversary of her immigration to Canada from Palestine, Aburgharbiyeh recalled having to make a fresh career start upon her 2012 arrival in Vancouver – even despite coming to this country armed with pair of Masters degrees.
“I was at the bottom of the ladder professionally and had to start again,” she said, noting that she juggled her online MACP studies with a full-time job as a settlement worker for newcomers.
“Regardless of the various reasons that brought us here, our journey at Yorkville University has made us better versions of ourselves…we are now empowered with vigour, we are more enthusiastic to continue on our paths, and we are more competent to face challenges and turn obstacles into opportunities for success.”
Joanne Reeves-Rood, valedictorian of Yorkville’s graduating Master of Education class, was unexpectedly unable to attend her ceremony due to a cancelled flight from Calgary.
She was one of nearly 750 additional ‘graduates in absentia’ who were granted the opportunity to tune in to their respective graduations live online at http://bit.ly/2JdIIMo (morning ceremony for BBA, MEd, and MACP programs) and http://bit.ly/2X97yqC (afternoon ceremony for MACP program).