THUNDER BAY – It was a full and exciting day at Confederation College today. Over 1300 Graduates received certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas today at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium during Confederation College’s 2012 Convocation ceremonies.
Graduates from Negahneewin College and the School of Health and Community Services were featured in the morning while the afternoon ceremony included the School of Aviation (ACE), School of Engineering, Technology and Trades and the School of Business, Hospitality and Media Arts.
President Jim Madder, presided over the ceremonies, his first Thunder Bay convocation since joining Confederation last July.
“Graduates should be very proud of themselves for their accomplishments,” said Madder. “Ceremonies like these signify completion of hard work, dedication, and a keen understanding of the skills and knowledge that will transition them successfully into the workforce.”
Lisa Sackanay – Practical Nursing, Mandeep Kumar – Business Administration – Accounting and Matt Depier – Aircraft Maintenance were all successful graduates of their programs.
The SUCCI/OASA Student Leadership Award, awarded to a graduating student who demonstrates exceptional leadership skills, is a positive role model and has affected change was presented to Jenny Peever, who graduated today from the Social Service Worker program.
Jenny has spent her time providing guidance to first-year students, served on the SSW Advisory Committee and was instrumental in planning and facilitating the National Conference for Social Service Workers/Social Work Educators held at Confederation College.
Jamie Caione, who graduated this afternoon from the three-year Business Administration – Human Resources program with a 4.0 GPA has been awarded, for the second year, the Governor General’s Award. The Governor General’s Award is presented to the student that has achieved the highest academic standing in the final year of a diploma level post-secondary program earning an average of 80% or better. This is the first time in the history of the College that the same person has won the award two consecutive years in a row.
Jamie Caione was also awarded the President’s Award and the Derek and Joan Burney Award.
Lisa Sackanay – Morning Ceremony: Graduate of the Practical Nursing program
It was Lisa Sackanay’s husband Alan that encouraged her go back to school. “He’s a big part of it all,” Lisa said. “That’s important, that encouragement.”
It wasn’t an easy decision. Lisa planned to take a year off after high school and then go on to Confederation College for nursing. But then she started a family – six kids now, altogether – which made reaching her dream difficult. “I thought that I would just be a stay-at-home Mom, but then I changed my mind,” Lisa said.
In 2007 they all moved from their home in Kashechewan First Nation to Thunder Bay. Since she had been away from school for so long, Lisa took a year of General Arts and Science and then Pre-Health Sciences before enrolling in the Practical Nursing program.
Today, on the verge of graduation, she has a placement at St. Joseph’s Care Group in its Transition Program and other job opportunities on the horizon. And it’s all thanks to Confederation College.
“I really like the faculty,” Lisa said. “They’re really encouraging you to complete the program. Whenever you have a question, they’re always there.”
But her dream doesn’t end here. Her goal is to work at a walk-in clinic back in Kashechewan once she gets more work experience.
Lisa is fulfilling a family dream as well – of her grandmother’s many grandchildren, she is the first to graduate from college.
“She’s coming down to attend my graduation. She’s so excited,” Lisa said.
Mandeep Kumar – Afternoon Ceremony: Graduate from Business Administration – Accounting program
For Mandeep Kumar, the road to a Confederation College diploma in Business Accounting and Administration was much longer than for most students – literally. Originally from Kurukshetra in the province of Haryana, India, Mandeep travelled to Thunder Bay as an international student with the support of his uncle in New York. It’s a move that, in retrospect, was absolutely the right one.
“People in Thunder Bay are friendly, they’re helpful,” he said. “They appreciate it if you’re doing a good job, and they’re very supportive – especially at the College.”
Mandeep was able to complete his three-year diploma in just two years because he had previous university credits from India. Confederation College was a much different experience, though.
“The college provides you with confidence when you first get in the program,” Mandeep said. “It gives you professional experience, and teaches you how to work out in the real world and how to handle problems.”
One of the highlights of his college experience was actually working and volunteering in the community. He volunteered at the Thunder Bay Folklore Festival for two years in a row, and worked part-time at a car wash and the Superstore to support himself. He also had a work placement at the Canada Revenue Agency.
Mandeep plans to work for a few years to get real-life experience before going for his professional designation like a CGA. He couldn’t have done it without Confederation College. “I can go anywhere and get a job easily,” he said.
Matt Depiero – Afternoon Ceremony: Graduate of Aircraft Maintenance program
Matt Depiero is living the dream. Even before he officially graduated from the Aviation Technician – Aircraft Maintenance program at Confederation College, Matt had a job in his hometown of Fort Frances at Lakeland Aviation, working on Otters, Cessnas, and other floatplanes.
It was easy slipping into the job there since the hands-on training he got at Confederation College prepared him for exactly the type of maintenance work he’s doing now. “They gave us a really good base knowledge of everything we needed to know,” Matt said. “I’m able to go to the shop now, and everything the guys I’m working with are talking about, I’ve already seen it or seen something similar. It just makes things so much easier.”
Matt is no slouch himself. He represented Confederation College at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition in Aircraft Maintenance this May in Waterloo. Matt brought home the Bronze. “That was probably the best experience I had in the program,” he said.
While talking with some of the other competitors, he found out how lucky he was to learn at the Aviation Centre of Excellence (ACE). Not only is it recognized as one of the best programs in the country, everything is located in one spot at the airport.
“It doesn’t sound like from when I talked to those guys that they had a set-up as nice as the ACE,” he said.
Ultimately though, Matt got a solid education that led to a great job. And isn’t that what it’s all about?