Yorkville University recently celebrated the accomplishments of more than 2,400 graduates during a pair of record-breaking virtual convocation ceremonies.
Presided over by Yorkville’s outgoing president, Dr. Rick Davey, the online events feted the New Brunswick campus’ Class of 2020 and 2021 Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MACP), Master of Education in Adult Education and Master of Education in Educational Leadership graduates.
“Congratulations everybody on your graduation. It’s a great day,” Davey said during his opening address.
“I hope you’re thinking about all the friends you have made during your studies; about the faculty that have touched you and inspired you; and about what the degree means in terms of your family and your friends and your career. It’s one of the great days in everyone’s life.”
Davey also took time to educate graduates on the phenomenon he believes changed the face of post-secondary education over this last half-century.
It was a shift, he said, that took first root more than 50 years ago with the 1969 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 to break the time and place constraints of traditional university programs,” Davey said, highlighting the institution’s use of correspondence, audio and television and synchronous and asynchronous technologies to facilitate the “massification” of higher education from an opportunity for the elite, to a public good available to all who have 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 on a focus on the professional adult learner striving for career advancement and success.”
BBA Valedictorian Karry Plaskitt
One such adult learner grateful for the learning opportunities afforded to her via Yorkville’s online offerings was BBA valedictorian Karry Plaskitt, who was lauded by Program Director John Morrison as a “shining example of hard work and persistence.”
Plaskitt, a single mother of three and payroll manager from Windsor, Ontario, praised the school for giving her and her fellow graduates the opportunity to achieve the “seemingly impossible.”
“You allowed us the ability to earn our degree online and free from life’s barriers. We, who are parents and working professionals; we, who have personal and physical obstacles that made attending in-person classes difficult; we were granted the flexibility to study when the time was available to us,” she said in her valedictory address.
“It made something that was previously just a dream, a reality for us…YU is a true example to the world that offering education to anyone, anyway, at any time, is possible.”
MEd Valedictorian Chantelle Caissie
Chantelle Caissie likewise walked away from her two years in the Master of Education in Adult Education program grateful to Yorkville for creating “brave spaces” where learners are invited to discover who they are and who they have yet to become.
A former social worker, the Ajax native said it was at Yorkville University that she met an “incredible educator” – Dr. Ellyn Lyle, Dean of the Faculty of Education – who “held the shattered pieces of my heart in the palm of her hands and reassured me that hope blooms in less than ideal circumstances.”
“Over the course of these two years I have come to understand that sometimes in life and learning, we have to put down the how-to manual and create space for the restorative possibilities born in breaking open,” she said during her heartfelt valedictory address, urging her fellow graduates to continue to do hard things in the face of adversity.
“My hope is that you continue to feed and nurture your discomfort, allow yourself to be a wildflower in a garden of roses, refusing to allow anyone to tell you that you’re not worthy of the sun. Graduates, plant your roots firmly – it’s your turn to grow.”
MACP Valedictorian Amrita Sandhu
For Amrita Sandhu, studying in Yorkville’s MACP program proved a similarly perfect opportunity for her to blossom to her full potential.
From an early age, the B.C.-based author and founder of Therapy Cove Counselling was taught of the invaluable nature of education – a lesson her parents engrained in her, along with the notion that each and every thing that can be attained on this earth can also be retracted, except for one’s education.
“From that moment forward, I vowed to always apply my absolute best in every realm of academic achievement,” she said.
“I learned that the key was not to strive for perfection, but passion. To pursue topics that ignited a true sense of alignment and exhilaration. This is what I found here at Yorkville with the MACP program – an opportunity to live my true authentic truth.”
Before bidding one last farewell to graduates, Davey reflected on the fact that, out of the 100+ graduation ceremonies he’s attended over his career as post-secondary educator, the ones that still stand out most to him are those of his children.
“This is a proud day for all of you graduates, but perhaps an even prouder day for your spouses and partners, your children and your parents,” he said.
“And that’s what makes every graduation, but especially yours, so meaningful, and why graduations are my favourite celebrations, especially this year when we yearn for something special.”
All Class of 2020 and 2021 Yorkville graduates, he added, will be invited to attend the university’s in-person convocation ceremony in Fredericton, New Brunswick next year. Details about the event are forthcoming.
Watch the full Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Education virtual graduation here.
Watch the Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology convocation ceremony here.