University Canada West celebrated its first in-person convocation ceremony since 2019 on Thursday, July 14 at Vancouver’s iconic BC Place stadium.

Students were joined by family and friends, UCW faculty and staff, and dignitaries for the Summer Convocation 2022 ceremonies to celebrate the nearly 1,200 graduates from 60 countries.

“Graduates, you persevered. You succeeded. And here you are, standing tall, all caps and gowns and smiles. Cherish this moment. You’ve earned it,” UCW President Sheldon Levy said. “I can tell you, on behalf of everyone at UCW, that we are very proud of you for what you’ve accomplished.”

Excitement was in the air at BC Place as family and friends from around the world came together to celebrate the students’ dedication and perseverance in earning their Master of Business Administration, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Arts in Business Communications and Associate of Arts degrees.

“It is now time for you graduates to take what you have learned and make our world a better place,” said Cyndi McLeod, CEO of Global University Systems Canada and Chair of the Board of Governors at University Canada West.

“While your graduation is something to celebrate, it is not the end goal. It is, however, an important steppingstone on your journey through life. You now have the skills that employers are looking for and have made a meaningful investment in becoming well-rounded global citizens.”

The Valedictorian for Summer 2022 was MBA graduate Rajmilan Poudel.

Originally from Nepal, Rajmilan completed his undergraduate studies at Tribhuvan University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and was named the Goodwill Ambassador of his graduating class, along with other accolades.

Before starting his MBA studies at UCW in the fall of 2020, Rajmilan worked as an event coordinator and co-founded a startup, which further piqued his interest in business and management.

Starting his degree in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rajmilan completed his first three terms online but was able to take on-campus classes during his final two terms at UCW.

“I feel so blessed to have been selected as the Valedictorian of our graduating class,” he said. “I am honoured to represent my class, which has such a broad spectrum of talent and professionals, who resiliently thrived through the last two challenging years.”

In his address to his fellow graduates Thursday, he said, “It’s wonderful to stand here and relive the memories of the past two years. We set out on this journey on an utterly unchartered path, full of uncertainties. We graciously accepted and excelled with online learning when the world was traumatized by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Kudos to all of us for fueling this journey with selfless love, unshakable dedication, immense resilience and enduring passion.”

The Medals for Academic Excellence went to Ingrid Ferreira Gomes, who earned an Associate of Arts degree, and Maryam Mahmoudi, who earned her MBA. Both also graduated with distinction.

Chief Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Professor Kathleen Mahoney, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Calgary, who are widely regarded as champions in Canada’s movement to truth and reconciliation, justice and human rights, received Honorary Doctorates during the ceremony.

Chief Fontaine has dedicated his life to furthering the rights and interests of his people and achieving truth and reconciliation for the massive human rights violations suffered for over 150 years by generations of First Nations peoples in Indian Residential Schools.

Professor Mahoney is an internationally recognized human rights expert, judicial educator and litigator who has spent her career seeking justice and equality for women and disadvantaged minorities through law.

They spent years working side-by-side on the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement with Professor Mahoney acting as the Chief Negotiator for the Assembly of First Nations. The Settlement Agreement, the largest of its kind in Canadian history, provided billions of dollars in compensation for individual survivors, long term support for intergenerational survivors, healing and commemoration, the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, and prompted the historic apologies by the Government of Canada and the Vatican. Professor Mahoney was the principal architect of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and served on the National Administration Committee, which oversaw the implementation of the Settlement Agreement, from 2012 to 2022.

For more information about Chief Fontaine and Professor Mahoney’s backgrounds and accomplishments, please see the full press release on UCW’s website.

“We are delighted to bestow honorary doctorates on Phil Fontaine and Kathleen Mahoney,” said UCW President and Vice-Chancellor Sheldon Levy. “Individually and together, Phil and Kathleen have dedicated their careers to the betterment of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the betterment of Canada. They are truly an inspiration to all of us at UCW.”

Recordings of UCW’s Summer Convocation ceremonies will be available on the University’s official Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Published on July 14, 2022.