Carol Herbert, former Dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, urged graduates to keep their privilege in mind and to always help others when opportunity allows.
Herbert was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science, honoris causa (DSc) at the Wednesday afternoon session of Western’s 312thConvocation.
She spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Social Science and The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, asking them to keep in mind one acronym – PROP: Privilege, Responsibility, Opportunity and Passion.
“Acknowledge your privilege. While you have been diligent in your studies, the fact that you and I are here today is evidence of our privilege,” she said.
With privilege, there is a responsibility to give back, Herbert added. Graduates must reflect on what they have been given and remember to pay it forward and embrace opportunities to help others.
“Be as passionate about ensuring the success of others as you are about yourself. Start small, but start contributing to your community.”
Herbert reminded graduates of the difficulties women in science continue to face today
“I want to encourage women scientists to hang in there,” she said, to juggle a career and family, to look for workplaces that support you and will support your complex lives and to seek mentors.
She encouraged all to work towards a level playing field in which women have equal opportunities.