University president tells graduates they have been prepared to make ‘intelligent decisions’
By Jim Day
A record number of University of Prince Edward Island graduates had a dreary day to launch into what they hope promises to be a bright future.
UPEI’’s class of 2014, the largest ever with 1,006 graduates receiving degrees, diplomas and certificates, crossed the floor in morning and afternoon convocations Saturday.
UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz directed the graduates to rise to their feet to acknowledge with “a wave and a smile’’ the people who helped support them through university.
“During your time at UPEI, your family and friends respected your educational goals,’’ said Abd-El-Aziz.
“They worked very hard to support and encourage you. They are here today filled with pride celebrating with you and cheering you on.’’
The president told the graduates, who represent more than 60 countries, that their future is not determined so much by experiences but rather by their responses to them.
He hopes UPEI has helped prepare this latest batch of graduates to respond well in life.
“Your education has prepared you to assess information, understand situations and make intelligent decisions,’’ he said.
“You have been taught to think — that is a great accomplishment. It will be with you forever.’’
Robert Irving, co-chief executive officer of J.D. Irving, urged the graduates to pursue their dreams in P.E.I. and the rest of Atlantic Canada.
“There are many opportunities for you right here,’’ he said.
“Think about creating your own job or business here . . . you can make it happen here and we need you to do that. You are our future.’’
Irving received an honorary degree Saturday at UPEI along with former P.E.I. lieutenant-governor Barbara A. Hagerman, retired Major-General Matt MacDonald, and retired educator James MacAulay.
Hagerman advised the graduates to lean on her five F’s of success: family, friendship, focus, failure and fun.
“I hope you always have family, in whatever form it takes,’’ she said.
“These are people who love you, support you and influence you.’’
As for failure, Hagerman says she knows of no one who has made it through life without experience its sting.
“Do not fear it, because I believe that the only true failure is the failure to try,’’ she said.
“It is regrettable that we so often treat failure as if it were fatal. I say learn from it, shake yourself off and come back stronger.’’
Among Saturday’s highlights, a total of 84 educators and leaders graduated with a modified bachelor of education degree specialized for the early years (kindergarten to Grade 2) through UPEI’s faculty of education.
Newly minted doctor of veterinary medicine, Dr. Donald Buchanan, told graduates in his valedictory speech to take the time to relax and enjoy the moment.
“All too often in life, we are pushed, pressured and prodded to meet deadlines, and to make a beeline toward a finish line,’’ he said.
“And the sad reality is that we’re really good at it. That’s how we got here. One project to the next, with rarely a moment to sit and reflect . . . So stop. Just break. Just breathe. Just be.’’