Over 2,500 students celebrated a huge milestone this week as they graduated during University Canada West’s Fall 2023 Convocation at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

It was the largest graduating class in UCW’s history, held over six ceremonies on October 23, 24 and 25.

Students were joined by family and friends, UCW faculty and staff, and dignitaries for the ceremonies to celebrate graduates from a student body representing 77 different countries.

“We are privileged to have earned a university degree and now we are responsible for making a difference and making our world and communities a better place,” said Ana Ponce Rodriguez, UCW’s Fall 2023 Valedictorian. “Let’s find our purpose and leave our mark. Let’s put our passion into everything we do.”

The ceremonies were the first for new President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Bashir Makhoul, whose Presidential Installation took place during the first day of convocation.

“Success takes many forms. But for us, at this University, success is seeing you go on to make meaningful and lasting contributions to industry, to learning and to society,” Dr. Makhoul told graduates. “We believe in you. And we will always be here for you.”

Monday’s ceremonies were the last for Sheldon Levy, UCW’s outgoing President and Vice-Chancellor.

“Your degrees have prepared you for work, but I think your experience at UCW has also prepared you for something greater,” he said. “Our University is a beacon. It’s a place where people from around the world come to study together. We learn to set aside the misguided forces and beliefs that pull us apart and we learn to embrace a world made stronger by mutual inclusion and respect.”

The convocations began with RCMP bagpipers Bruce Coulter and John Ralston leading in the graduating students, a platform party processional led by drummer Sit-a-Luk Raymond Jones Peter of the Quw’utsun (Cowichan) First Nation and a traditional greeting from Elder Swutth’tus Calvin Swustus, also from Quw’utsun.

“The difficulties that you went through to make it to this day, all of that beautiful hard work you’ve achieved, the support you’ve gotten from our beloved families…we cannot feel proud enough,” Sit-a-Luk said.

UCW also bestowed an Honorary Doctorate upon Sam Sullivan, who has dedicated his life to public service as an elected official and an advocate for people with disabilities.

The former Mayor of Vancouver spoke to graduates, noting they are in the middle of some serious life changes.

“But no matter how uncertain things might seem, there are things to achieve and people who need you. The past can be a heavy burden. But you can make it into a good memory and learn that there are many goals and achievements and relationships that you will cherish,” he said.

This year, UCW had four Medal for Academic Excellence winners.

Marilen Alover Macapobre, who is from the Philippines, studied the Master of Business Administration program at UCW. She completed the program with a 4.09 cumulative grade point average.

Maria Jose Jimenez Castillo, who hails from Nicaragua, graduated from UCW’s Bachelor of Commerce program with a 3.75 cumulative GPA.

Anar Zoljargal, who is from Mongolia, graduated from the Bachelor of Arts in Business Communication program at UCW with a 4.11 cumulative GPA.

Elisa Mosqueda Martinez Del Sobral, who travelled from Mexico to study the Associate of Arts program, graduated with a 4.15 cumulative GPA.

The celebrations didn’t end there. UCW’s faculty were also recognized.

Two professors were honoured with Teaching and Learning Excellence Awards: Dr. William Rubel, an Assistant Professor at UCW with an extensive background in English and Philosophy, and Dr. Mehdi Akhgari, who brings industry experience to UCW and his students through various leadership roles that include strategic planning, marketing, incorporation and operations.

Dr. Maureen Mancuso, Vice-President Academic, said in her closing remarks, “wherever your future leads you, please don’t forget that even though you may no longer be on campus, you are still part of our community. Your association with UCW—like your journey of learning—is lifelong. We hope you will feel welcome to return from time to time to share your accomplishments and experiences with your fellow alumni, your former professors and the future students who follow in your footsteps.”

You can watch UCW’s Fall 2023 Convocation ceremonies on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

Published on October 25, 2023.