Convocation is a special time of year for students and staff of Durham College (DC). For students it’s a time to celebrate with friends and family for the investment of time and energy they put in to graduate.
For the staff, it’s a time to see the success of the graduation pool and see students become part of the working class or move on to other educational pursuits.
But after the pandemic precluded ceremonies from happening in person, DC officials are hoping graduates can gather at the Tribute Communities Centre in June 2022.
“We look optimistically forward to a time when we are able to resume more traditional in-person ceremonies,” says Michelle Hutt, associate vice-president, academic (enrolment and international education).
Hutt says convocation is special, a grand finale to the time and investment students put into college.
“It is the moment when a student can pause to reflect on their post-secondary experience, to proudly acknowledge,” says Hutt.
“Convocation is always special because we get not only to see the student celebrating but we get to see them being congratulated by their family and friends.”
Traditionally, convocation has been held at the Tribute Communities Centre in downtown Oshawa to accommodate hundreds of grads and their families and friends. However, DC had to be innovative to celebrate its graduates during the pandemic.
The school has hosted four ‘virtual convocations’ since the pandemic started in March 2020.
Roughly 10,000 students have graduated from DC during the COVID-19 pandemic Hutt says. Those students have been promised to be invited back for an in-person ceremony when government guidelines allow.
According to Hutt, a survey of DC students determined there are three important things students want from their graduation: being able to celebrate with family and friends in person, crossing a stage to celebrate their accomplishment, and receiving their credential.
Although in-person ceremonies must wait, the college created a website that allows family and friends to celebrate a student’s accomplishment. In addition, Hutt says students have received a lawn sign from DC staff.
The lawn signs are sponsored by the DC Alumni Association, Hutt says. The funds Durham College would have spent for the four convocations that were not held during the pandemic, will be spent bringing students back for an in-person ceremony at a later date.
Hutt says DC is always striving to stage the best convocation possible, by examining previous ceremonies.
“We also look at any opportunities to improve based on the information we have available to us,” she says.