Hope fills VIU graduates

NANAImo – Hundreds of Vancouver Island University graduates cross the stage, proud of their accomplishments and full of hope.

B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon addresses students graduating with bachelor of arts and bachelor of interior design degrees from Vancouver Island University during a convocation ceremony at the Port Theatre Monday afternoon.

B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon addresses students graduating with bachelor of arts and bachelor of interior design degrees from Vancouver Island University during a convocation ceremony at the Port Theatre Monday afternoon.

Hundreds of Vancouver Island University graduates crossed the stage Monday and Tuesday, proud of their accomplishments and full of hope for the future.

The university handed out more than 600 master’s and bachelor’s degrees, diplomas and certificates in several different disciplines and trades programs early this week. The four ceremonies at the Port Theatre made up one of the institution’s largest spring convocations.

“I know you’ve worked hard, but it’s just the beginning,” said B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon in her address to graduates in the Monday afternoon ceremony. “The degree is the key to open so many doors. Now you will have to choose which path you will follow and how and where you will continue your adventure of a lifetime of learning.

“As I told my children, none of us can predict what skills and degrees the future will favour, but one thing I can predict – you will have to be flexible, and enjoy change and adaptation.”

VIU President Ralph Nilson told students that their university education is more important than ever – the federal government estimates that three-quarters of new jobs in Canada will require post-secondary education.

Graduates were optimistic about their chances of securing employment despite the economic downturn.

Babak Zargarian, 22, who received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and political science, heads to law school at the University of B.C. in September.

“I think job prospects are good, especially if you can stick it out through law school and get good grades,” he said.

Michael O’Brien, whose bachelor of arts includes minors in history, math and psychology, is signed up to enter the post-baccalaureate education program at VIU – another 1.5 years of school – with plans to become a secondary school teacher.

He said job prospects in general are good, but he may have to move to northern B.C. to get his start because competition for positions is stiff on the Island.

“One of the things benefiting us is eventually that retirement wave is going to hit us,” said O’Brien.

Tiffany Barone and Zena Marie Blames, who received bachelor of interior design degrees, are moving to Victoria and Vancouver respectively to try to find work in their field.

On top of the degrees, diplomas and certificates, VIU awarded honorary doctor of law degrees to three prominent lawyers – Thomas Berger, Ronald MacIssac and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.

The institution also gave a distinguished alumni award to Snuneymuxw First Nations Chief Douglas White III and an outstanding service award to retired VIU English professor Kevin Roberts.

For more information, please go to www.viu.ca/convocation.