Kelsey Appleton from Marshall Sask. was one of 230 Lakeland students to graduate from the Lloydminster campus on May 25. Appleton graduated from the two year business adminstration in accounting and plans to get her degree through Lakeland’s university transfer program with Athabasca University.
Convocation day at the Lloydminster campus of Lakeland College shaped up to be one of the most memorable days of the academic year.
About 140 of 230 grads took part in the campus ceremony on May 25, many accompanied by friends and family members to cheer them on.
“Without family and friends, students don’t survive, so the support and the encouragement family and friends give to students just helps them make their journey through the educational process a little bit easier,” said Lakeland president, Alice Wainwright-Stewart.
The ceremony included the presentation of certificates and diplomas to grads from Lakeland’s Business, Energy, Health & Wellness, Street Rod Technologies and University Transfer programs.
Graduating with a Health Care Aide certificate meant the world to 41 year-old mom Michelle Rice.
Her certificate allows her to keep her seniority at the Pine Island Lodge in Maidstone where she’s worked for the past three years.
“It feels wonderful even being slightly older than a lot of the students, it feels like a great accomplishment for myself and for my family,” she said.
It was that much better to receive her certificate with her two daughters and her mom on hand.
“It means the absolute world to me and it shows my daughters that no matter what age you are, you can accomplish anything and your dreams are never ending,” she said.
Her mom Anne-Marie Cassidy said her daughter’s horn was also being tooted remotely by her husband, their two dogs, a cat and a dragon.
“It’s just a huge accomplishment in her world and in mine,” said Cassidy.
“When you are growing up you always want your child to do better than you did and she certainly has.”
For the second year in a row, the convocation featured a First Nations opening prayer by Cree Elder Wes Fineday and an honour song by the Young Scott Drum Group.
It’s all part of Lakeland’s ongoing reconciliation process within Treaty 6 territory.
“It’s always been a special part of the ceremony and it’s surprising after the ceremony how many people come forward and told me how much it brought to the ceremony,” said Wainwright-Stewart.
In fact, she says the campus highlight of the academic year for her was seeing an increase in the cultural diversity of the student body.
The opening of the Indigenous Student Lounge she noted provided a place for Indigenous students to share and learn more about their identity, culture and history and practise spiritual customs.
“I see that being used by other students as well,” said Wainwright-Stewart.
Lakeland’s cultural sensitivity was a comfort to Onion Lake student Katelyn Janvier who said she “came from a long ways” to graduate from the Health Care Aide program.
“It feels pretty good and I’m excited,” she said noting she felt welcome at Lakeland this year.
“Everything worked out pretty good; I liked it, it was a good experience—everyone helped out.”
Janvier already has a full—time job and plans to take the nursing program next fall.
She brought her young daughter and fiance Claude Cantre with her to the grad ceremony.
“It feels good to see them watch me do this,” she said with a smile.
“It’s for my baby girl not only for myself and for my family as well, the future for all of us.”
Jonathan Kuzek, a graduate of the Heavy Oil Powering Engineering program received the President’s Medal as the Lloyd campus grad who has demonstrated excellence in academics and leadership in student activities.
A President’s Medal will be presented during convocation for about 550 students at the Vermilion campus on June 1.
Fire and Emergency Services and Trades and Technology ceremonies are held at other times during the academic year.
Wainwright-Stewart noted fall enrolment at both campuses is currently up 13 per cent from the same point in time a year ago.
“We’ll have about 7,000 people this year complete credit and non credit courses so I’m anticipating that or even a little higher next year,” she said.
“It’s pretty healthy even though they had a little downturn in trades funding from the Alberta government.”
She noted enrolment growth is in tune with a 2017 survey of 40,000 students at 63 colleges and universities in Canada that ranks Lakeland first for the most recommended place by students with the best academic counselling and most approachable professors.
“It’s the hands-on one experiences with our instructors that make a difference in their lives,” said Wainwright-Stewart.