Graduates Jenna Bent, Mark Domanski and Matt Kervin received their bachelor degrees on Jan. 22 at SMU. Bent says it feels more personal to graduate at the university where she studied as opposed to another location. (Photo: Dorine Schreiner)

SMU honours winter graduates in January convocation

SMU hosts first-ever winter convocation on campus


Not just the season, but also the location is significant for Saint Mary's University's first winter convocation. The ceremony was held in the recently revitalized McNally Theatre Auditorium.

Since the fall of 2002, SMU hasn't had a chance to celebrate student accomplishments on campus. The size of graduation classes had outgrown the campus space. Over the years, the convocation ceremonies took place at the Metro Centre or the World Trade and Convention Centre.

"It's more representative of school spirit to actually be where you studied when you graduate," says Lindsay Reynolds, graduating with a bachelor of arts in international development studies. Jenna Bent, who received a bachelor of arts in English, agreed, "To graduate at the university makes it more personal and more quaint."


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Moayad Alhuzum says he's happy to receive his degree now. The master of finance graduate plans on returning to Saudi Arabia soon. (Photo: Dorine Schreiner)

Need for a winter convocation

The option of a winter convocation was first discussed in 2006. Some students completed their studies at Christmas. For employment purposes abroad, they were required to present their graduation papers.

That year and since then, the university senate has granted degrees to a number of January graduates, but not until now have these winter grads crossed the stage during a convocation ceremony.

"It's important to me. I'm waiting to get a visa to go to the USA," says Matt Kervin, who received a bachelor in political science. He added, "I need the papers [now] for a better status to get a heads up on the application process." Kervin plans to join his brother in California, who started up an internet company in Santa Monica.

For international student Moayad Alhuzum, the ceremony comes at just the right time. He handed in his last assignments for a master in finance on Dec. 20. He said he is "grateful" to be honoured with a ceremony, so he can return to Saudi Arabia next week with a memory that's more than a piece of paper after living in Halifax for three years. "I think it's pretty cool that we don't have to wait four months to graduate ... [a winter convocation] is a good idea."

From certificates to doctorates

"Two hundred degrees and certificates will be handed out to 180 students," said Steve Proctor, communications manager at SMU, prior to the event.

Doctorates in civil law degrees will be received by Lawrence J. Hayes Q.C. and holocaust survivor and human rights advocate Philip Riteman.

Winter convocations are fairly uncommon in Canada. Most universities honour graduates during fall and spring convocations. The University of Guelph also holds a graduation ceremony in February.


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