By Villeneuve, Melissa on June 2, 2017.
After working for four years at the Crowfoot School on the Siksika Nation, Shirley Kirby was inspired to pursue her master of education degree.
She accomplished that dream on Thursday, as one of 1,428 students who will cross the stage at the University of Lethbridge for the 2017 Spring Convocation.
Four ceremonies are planned over two days to celebrate the achievements of the graduates, held in the 1st Choice Savings Centre for Sport and Wellness.
At 70 years old, Kirby is a true representative of lifelong learning. It was at the U of L where she found her niche.
“I’ve always enjoyed studying,” she said. “Since working at Crowfoot School, I found I really wanted to know more about residential schools, the effects, and what I personally could do about it. Institutionally, the University of Lethbridge has very much encouraged me along the way so I can have done this in that field.”
Now that she has her master’s, Kirby hopes to pursue changes in education curriculum to ensure indigenous knowledge and culture is well-represented and taught in all schools.
“So that mainstream children as well as indigenous children can learn the knowledge from the land,” she said. “It is so interesting and so important.”
For Caitlin Ratcliffe, who obtained her bachelor of arts with a double major in English and history, the morning convocation ceremony was a bit “terrifying.” The graduate was honoured to receive the Faculty of Arts and Science Gold Medal (Arts), but was nervous about having to go onstage twice.
“My mom is very proud. I’m very excited,” she said.
Ratcliffe said she loves the U of L because it is a smaller university, and that makes connections more personal.
“The professors all know me by name and I think that’s fantastic,” she said. “I couldn’t have got my award without the help of all my professors along the way.”
Ratcliffe will begin her master’s of library and information studies at the University of Alberta this fall.
Along with the nerves, it’s also an exciting day, said Victoria Luchka, who received her bachelor of arts in history.
“It’s a lot of hard work that you put in and it’s nice to have a day where you can just relax and enjoy the hard work you’ve put in, and to have people recognize that.”
Luchka will go on to the University of British Columbia in the fall for her master’s in archival science.
On Thursday, the School of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Arts & Science: BA and BASc degrees were presented during the morning Ceremony I, while the Faculty of Arts & Science: BSc, Faculty of Health Sciences degrees were presented in the afternoon Ceremony II.
Two exceptional people were awarded with honourary degrees during the ceremonies – Maria Klawe and Dennis Connolly. Klawe, a world-class computer scientist and researcher, has made a difference for many women and girls by improving their representation in male-dominated fields such as math and science.
Connolly is one of the original professors hired at the U of L in 1967, and is still teaching 50 years later. He was recognized for his significant contributions and commitment to the university.
Today, Ceremony III begins at 9:30 a.m. for the Faculty of Education, Combined Degrees in Education, and Faculty of Fine Arts. Ceremony IV begins at 2:30 p.m. for the Faculty of Management, and Combined Degrees in Management.
For more Spring 2017 Convocation information, visit http://www.uleth.ca/convocation/.
See list of medal winners on Page A4.
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