It was an extra special occasion at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) in Quesnel, where three years of graduates were recently celebrated.
Down a staircase and through the large atrium where family and friends gathered, traditional drummers and dancers led the graduates to their front row seats on Thursday, June 2.
The combined ceremony celebrated all three (2020, 2021, and 2022) graduating classes of the CNC campus, and saluted students who completed their second year of nursing.
It was the first large-scale commencement held since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among those commending graduates after Lhakto Dené Nation elder Ellie Peters shared a traditional welcome was CNC president Dr. Dennis Johnson.
“You’re not the same person that walked through the doors at CNC for the first time last year or the year before, whenever you started,” Johnson told the graduates.
“You each have a reason why you pursued an education and more specifically why you chose CNC. We take great pride in our graduates. No matter where you find yourself in life, you are and will always be part of the CNC community and a proud CNC alumni.”
On behalf of Quesnel City Council, Mayor Bob Simpson applauded the graduates and said their opportunities are endless, especially in terms of joining the workforce.
“At graduation, they’d say you can do whatever you want but the workforce door or career opportunities would close—that’s not the case,” Simpson said.
“You truly have the opportunity to shape your own path, and I would hope that part of that path is contributing back to the community and creating this opportunity to advance.”
On behalf of the Cariboo Regional District, Area A director Mary Sjostrom noted how challenging the past two years have been for everyone, particularly students.
Yet, she said they persevered and showed commendable dedication to their education.
“Graduation also comes with a bit of fear of the unknown journey ahead, but I hope that you all can embrace this new exciting chapter of your life with the knowledge and skills that you have gained at the campus and take it forward in a very positive way,” Sjostrom said.
According to a news release, more than a thousand CNC students across campuses in B.C.’s central interior will be eligible to graduate in 2022, marking one of the largest graduating classes ever.
The 2022 grads will be joined by grads from the two previous years for the college’s first in-person convocation ceremonies since 2019.
In Quesnel, Chailee Normandin accepted her diploma for social service worker.
She had applied for the program after she took up volunteering with the local women’s resource centre when she realized that she wanted to make a change in her life’s work.
“These last two years have been an amazing experience from learning the importance of self-care and navigating through many online classes,” Normandin said in a news release.
“We were blessed with amazing instructors who were willing and available to help assist students with technical issues, when they themselves were going through some of the same challenges with regards to online learning. I’m thankful for all the support and look forward to what the future has to offer.”
The following day, a regional celebration was held at the UNBC South-Central Campus in Quesnel for the 12 graduates who completed their Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
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