Crossing the stage is sweet, sweet reward – even though pandemic-delayed – for Western graduates of 2021 and 2020 who are enjoying graduation celebrations in person from July 4 to 8.
Five days. Ten ceremonies. Thousands of gown-garbed recent alumni and their supporters.
“The main thing was to get that degree last year. This is the icing on the cake,” said Michael Ben, who earned a master’s in public administration in 2021 and returned to campus on Monday for his in-person graduation.
“I’m here because I worked so hard for my master’s, and I want to be a role model to our children of what this achievement looks like,” he said, flanked by his wife Dionne and their children Michelle and Michael Junior.
As the pandemic collided with convocation planning in 2020, Western promised that the classes of 2020 and 2021 would have this opportunity, as have about 330,000 fellow Western alumni from more than 160 countries around the world.
The celebrations take place at Alumni Hall at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day and will feature similar key elements enjoyed by 2022 graduates who marked their spring Convocation in June this year.
Graduates are led into the banner-festooned auditorium to the music of the Western Convocation Brass and treated to a processional of university leaders and faculty in full regalia.
As they are called by name to cross the stage, graduates will be greeted and congratulated by chancellor Linda Hasenfratz, by Western president and vice-chancellor Alan Shepard or provost Florentine Strzelczyk, and by a faculty or affiliated university college representative.
Approximately 3,700 new alumni will be taking part in person, many of them from across Canada and around the world, said convocation co-ordinator Caitlin Price.
They already have had their degrees conferred upon them during virtual celebrations in 2020 and 2021, and have received their diplomas.
Tina Tran, BMOS’20 and Elizabeth Yeung, BMOS’21, took time off work to return to campus as alumni.
“I just want to feel that grad energy,” said Yeung. That includes walking across the stage, and taking photos with her classmates and family. She remembered writing her final exam from her apartment bedroom. “We had to leave campus so suddenly. I just wanted some closure.”
Tran was always determined to come back for a celebration, to wrap a symbolic bow on school life. “I figured I’ve paid for this degree and sweat for this degree – and I’m going to make sure I’m walking across that stage.”