Convocation Thursday, November 21, 2019, 2:30 p.m.

– [Announcer] Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the academic
procession and the Chancellor. (stately music) I declare that the 607th Convocation of McMaster University for the conferring of degrees is now in session. – Please be seated. Good afternoon. I am Dr. Susan Searls Giroux, acting Provost and
Vice-President Academic. This afternoon I have the great pleasure of being your master of ceremonies, and it is my privilege and honour on behalf of McMaster University
to welcome all of you, graduands and guests, to
this convocation ceremony. On behalf of the university, I would like to start the ceremony by recognising and
acknowledging that we meet today on the traditional territories of the Mississauga and
Haudenosaunee nations, and within the lands protected by the Dish With One
Spoon wampum agreement. We must remember that we all have a role in upholding the spirit of this agreement, which urged for the peaceful
sharing of earth’s resources. We must also not forget that merely acknowledging our presence on these traditional
lands is only a small step on our shared path to reconciliation. I challenge you to consider how
we can foster reconciliation among the many peoples
that inhabit these lands. Before we start our formal programme, may I ask everyone in the hall to switch off any electronic device that may ring or beep during the ceremony. I would now like to call
upon our Chancellor, Ms. Santee Smith, to make
her own welcoming remarks. (audience applauds) (Speaks in a Haudenosaunee language) – Greetings, honoured
guests, faculty, staff, friends, families, most
importantly, graduands. It’s a pleasure to be
present with you today and share in this exciting time as we mark a milestone in life with acknowledgment and celebration. Today’s convocation
represents the culmination of a tremendous amount
of work and dedication to fulfilling your academic goals. Congratulations. (Speaks in a Haudenosaunee language) Graduands, you are the present and future leaders and innovators. What you choose to do with
your time has the potential for incredible positive impact locally, nationally, and internationally. I would like to acknowledge
the people in this room and beyond who have contributed
to your achievement. Take a moment to reflect on the people who made it possible for you to be at this very juncture in life. Hold them in your thoughts, in your body, and say, “I’m grateful.” Congratulations, and enjoy the ceremony. (audience applauds) – I would like to
welcome Dr. Paul O’Byrne, Dean and Vice-President of the
Faculty of Health Sciences, to the podium to present our
honorary degree recipient. – Madam Chancellor, by the authority of the
Senate of McMaster University, I have the honour to present Mary Law. Today, Mary Law is receiving her second McMaster University degree. She earned her first in 1985,
a Master’s of Science degree in clinical epidemiology
and biostatistics, after completing her studies in occupational therapy
at Queen’s University, and before earning a PhD at
the University of Waterloo. Dr. Law’s career began with
occupational therapy postings in Kingston, Thunder Bay,
and Kitchener, Ontario, before she joined what was then Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals
as a research clinician. She became the director of research for the hospital’s Occupational
Therapy Department, and then worked with the
Occupational Therapy Service at the Waterloo Rotary Children’s Centre. Dr. Law joined McMaster
University’s School of Occupational Therapy & Physiotherapy as a part-time assistant
professor in 1987, beginning a career that featured progressive
academic appointments within the school, and also with the Department
of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She became a professor in
1998 and also served a decade as Associate Dean, Health
Sciences, Rehabilitation, and Director of the School
of Rehabilitation Sciences. Her leadership was instrumental
in increasing the size of the school’s research
enterprise four-fold, and in the introduction
of innovative programmes including McMaster’s first
online master’s degree. In 2001, she was appointed the inaugural John and Margaret Lillie Chair in Childhood Disability Research, and she has been a professor
emerita since 2014. Dr. Law’s scholarly work, captured in 15 books and
240 peer-reviewed articles, has focused on the development of client-centered outcome measures, the evaluation of
interventions with children, the effects of environmental factors on the participation of
children with disabilities, and on the transfer of
research into practise. One of her signature accomplishments was guiding the development of the Canadian Occupational
Performance Measure that has now been implemented
in more than 60 countries. In 1987, she co-founded the CanChild Centre for
Childhood Disability Research. Her advocacy for the importance of occupational therapists
having the ability to analyse and change
disabling environments to allow children with disabilities to participate in daily activities influenced the World Health Organization’s International Classification
of Functioning, Disability and Health. As an elected member of the American Occupational
Therapy Foundation’s Academy of Research, and the Canadian Academy
of Health Sciences, Dr. Law is a fellow of the Canadian of
Occupational Therapists. She has earned the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists Award of Merit, the City of Cambridge
Woman of Distinction Award, the Queen’s University
Legacy of Achievement Award, and the Family Alliance
Ontario Heart Award for family-centered research. At McMaster University, she received the Faculty
of Health Sciences Award for Graduate Supervision, and is a member of the Faculty’s
Community of Distinction. A lifetime member of both the Canadian Association
of Occupational Therapists and the Ontario Society of
Occupational Therapists, Dr. Law is an Officer
of the Order of Canada, an honour she received for
her transformational work in occupational therapy
which set the standard for research and shaped
clinical practise in Canada. Unfortunately, Dr. Law
cannot join us this afternoon to accept this honorary degree, so I am requesting, Madam Chancellor, that I have the privilege
of presenting you a member of our faculty as a pioneer of education, advocacy and mentorship, and ask you that you
recognise her accomplishments and contributions by bestowing
upon Dr. Mary Law the degree of Doctor of Science,
honoris causa in absentia. And Dr. Law’s remarks will
be given this afternoon by her son, Jeffrey Law. – By the authority of the
McMaster University Senate, I have the great pleasure
to confer upon Mary Law, in absentia, to the
degree Doctor of Science, honoris causa, at McMaster University, with all of the rights and privileges pertaining to that degree. (audience applauds) I would now like to invite
Dr. Law’s son, Jeff Law, to deliver her convocation address. – Okay. I was asked by my mother, who unfortunately couldn’t be here today, to deliver her speech. I apologise for my nerves. As I travelled here today, I was certainly not expecting to be addressing such a large room. I’ll deliver her speech
verbatim as she intended, so please just picture me
as a 69-year-old woman. (audience laughs) I would be a little bit shorter, but… Madam Chancellor, acting
President, honoured guests, graduates, family and friends, congratulations to all
who are graduating today. Be proud of your achievements, and congratulations to all
the family members and friends who are also so proud and
have supported each graduate through their learning journey. It’s a wonderful honour for me
to receive an honorary degree from my home university. I came to McMaster to
study for a master’s, and from the first day
I walked onto campus, I knew I had discovered a special place, not simply somewhere to study, but an environment of open collaboration, lifelong learning and innovation. I hope you also take
many positive memories from your time at Mac. Your life, your work, and career are unlikely to
take a predictable path. Where will you go? What will you do? You graduate at a challenging
time in our world. How can you take the learning experiences you have gained at Mac
and make a difference and a positive impact? Louis Pasteur said that chance favours
only the prepared mind, so you start from a good place. What opportunities will come your way? What will you seek out? With a prepared and curious mind, challenges are met and
opportunities are sought out, and that can change our paths. Let me share a story of opportunity and challenge with you. Many years ago, I worked as
an occupational therapist in a children’s rehab centre in a small community in Ontario. A young boy, three years old, who had a significant muscle disease, was unable to move his arms
or legs with any strength. He could not walk or push a wheelchair. At the time, children’s
electric wheelchairs were just becoming available. Together with his family, we saw this as a great opportunity, but also a huge challenge, as it cost about half of
the family’s yearly income. His father had insurance through work, so we submitted an
application for approval. It was denied. I called the adjuster
and he would not budge. He said they’d never done
this for a child so young. I emphasised the opportunities that would open up for this boy. The answer remained no. He asked, “What will
happen if he drives it “where he’s not supposed
to go or causes damage?” I said that I expected his
parents would turn it off. Then he said, “I have
a three-year-old boy, “and I would not let him
drive an electric chair.” I asked, “But can your son walk?” We ended up getting the funding. That opportunity gave
hope to this young man. It opened up his world, hope for movement, but so much more: to go on school trips,
to play with other kids, to run his chair up the dining room wall and have his parents turn it off, to go to the pub with his brother, to attend post-secondary education, to work, to marry, and to
have children of his own. I’ve always remembered this young boy, the challenges, but more the
opportunities in creating hope, not by changing him, but by
changing the world around him. You too will encounter challenges, but you do not have to face them alone. Research tells us that the resilience to meet challenges is influenced most by our environment and
community resources. Like the young boy, challenges are met and opportunities created by
changing the world around us. Through this, you can build capacity, find hope, and make a difference
in your world, our world. If I may ad-lib a little bit, I myself am an occupational therapist, and speaking as someone who’s kinda 10 years into the profession, please don’t lose this hope. It’s very easy to become
cynical in this world, but it’s this hope that
helps our clients achieve what no one thought is possible. So I wish you well. We need you. Thank you. (audience applauds) – Thank you for your
inspiring words, Jeff, and congratulations. Please send to your mother
congratulations from all of us. – Dr. David Farrar, acting
President and Vice-Chancellor, will now come forward
to present the graduands to the Chancellor for
admission to their degrees. – Will the graduands please rise? Madam Chancellor, on behalf
of McMaster University Senate, I present to you these
candidates and those in absentia in order that you may confer the appropriate degrees upon them, and I bear witness that they
are worthy and suitable. – Graduands, by my authority and that of the McMaster
University Senate, I have the great pleasure to admit to those before me today
and those in absentia to their individual degrees
at McMaster University all of the rights and privileges pertaining
to those degrees. My many sincere
congratulations to you all. (audience applauds) Please be seated. – Graduates, I now ask each
of you to join me on stage so that the Chancellor
and I may welcome you to the McMaster community of scholars. (Soft piano music) – Graduands and guests, so that each graduate’s name may be heard, it would be appreciated
if during the presentation of the graduands, you will
hold your collective applause to the end of each degree category. Thank you. Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the
degree Doctor of Philosophy: Alexandria Afonso. Brandyn Daniel Henriksbo. Carmina Angelica Perez Romero. Louis Patrick Schenck. Kanwaldeep Singh. Wenqing Zhang. Heather Leigh Bullock. Young Jung. Ahmad Firas Khalid. Shaghayegh Donya Razavi. Amanda Baskwill. Kristen Burrows. Frederick Lifangi-Ikomi Morfaw. Sam Afkhami. William Gwynne. (audience laughs) Angela Huynh. (audience laughs) Steven Liang. Maude Perreault. Carolina Stryjecki. Chandak Upagupta. Gesine Alders. Ashley Bernardo. Amber Rieder. Erin Lindsay Ziegler. Julie Christine Reid. Kathy Ann Wlodarczyk. (audience applauds) – Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following
graduates of the degree Master of Biomedical
Discovery & Commercialization: Kaan Yusuf Balta. Natalie Rivka Cohen. Steven Douglas Gould. Kai Dan Guan. Anja Kandic. Petro Khodkevych. Krish Khurana. Jacob Angus MacKinnon. Naveen Sandhu. (audience applauds) Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the degree Master of Science: Anran Cheng. Smarth Narula. Meghan Anna Rothenbroker. Caleb Seo. Mirza Shahbaz Shakeel. Damian Tran. Selina Marie Buesink. Hayley Carpenter. Kayla Marie Cialini. Laura Collings. Bailey Nicole Felkar. Ciara Anne Kelly. Dana Elizabeth Kondo. Jocelyn Michelle Leworthy. Cassidy Mante-Adjei. Sarah Ruth Nyland. Brittany Oliver. Cindy Pilchuk. Breanne Schuit. Syed Shozab Ahmed. Abdallah Ahmad Al Hamlawi. Dena Badawi. (audience cheers) Sabahat Balaban. Emily Elaine Bryson. Emily Michelle Dugo. Amanda Nicole Giancola. Juliana Hayden-Nygren. Ralph Hsiao. Noa Lashevsky. Christine Leung. Samantha Lo. Di Lu. Olivia Marie McGeever. Elizabeth Fischer Milosevic. Hanan Moalim. Jessica Marie Morris. Joshua Jordan Neposlan. Rebecca Sarah Ng. Karine Anni Ohanian. Rameiya Paramalingam. Mauli Mahendra Patel. Megha Patel. Elizabeth-Ann Patterson-Stallwood. Sarah Juliana Pol. Ludmila Barcelos Porto. Raajia Abdur Rehman. Lauren Carly Robins. Jimena Rodriguez Arguello. Christine Saleeb. Lucy Shao. Daniel Michael Sholok. Anwesha Sikder. Gajanee Sivapatham. Matthew Skelly. Jacqueline Slomovic. Ashley Snow. Anna Socha. Max Solish. Madison Elizabeth Taylor. Serena Tejpar. Grace Maria Terry. John Thien Huy Vu. Helen Elizabeth Wallace. Aloka Wijesooriya. Neil Richmond Lu Wu. Hunster Yang. Clara Micheline Zacharko. Hajar Abu Alrob. Harsukh Benipal. Mihir Bhatt. Laura Childerhose. Nazari Dvirnik. Saurabh Gupta. Ayesha Ashraf Javed. Ahmad Mohammedanas Makhdoum. Salmi Tahseen Noor. Pakeezah Saadat. Alyson Midori Takaoka. (audience members cheer) Nathan Elliott Cupido. Chante Emily Beatrice De Freitas. (audience members cheer) Dilshan Ishara Pieris. Asma Shafique. Mary Angela Woodward. Joanna Karol Cunanan. Michael Rein D’Agostino. Luca Di Giuseppantonio. Emily Elizabeth Hartung. Lilian Ho. Patricia Kitala. Jaime Katherine Knoch. (audience members cheer) Katharine Anne Elizabeth Mackett. Gayatri Nair. Maria Nguyen. Marc Ramkairsingh. David Rodriguez. (audience members cheer) Loshana Sockalingam. Vidushi Swarup. Ekaterina Kirilova Todorova. Maryam Vaseghi-Shanjani. Brendan Robert Fera. Herry Narendra Patel. Rebekah Elizabeth Bushby. Leah Costa. Regina DeLottinville. Rachael Anne Haalboom. Sarah Lynne Junkin. Amandeep Kaur. Ka Fai Kelvin Leung. (audience laughs) Joanna Lynsdale. Jonathan Neufeld. Osahon Osawe. Nicole Eileen Parco. Djurdja Radulovic. Caitlin Anne Reeves. Armaghan Dabbagh. (audience members cheer) Kinley Dorji. Sabrina Hossain. Shereen Khattab. (audience members cheers) – [Man] That’s my girl! Love you!
(audience laughs) – [Dr. Thomas] Nicole A. Last. (audience members cheer) Jasmine Reigh Martin. Srikant Nair. Joshua Yong. (audience applauds) Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following
graduates of the degree Master of Science, Occupational Therapy: Syed Raza Ahsan. (audience members cheer) Brittany Suzanne Aldworth. Cheryl Anne Balzer. (audience members cheer) Lauren Bender. Melanie Viegas Carvalho. (audience members cheer) Judy Chang. Farrah Chow. Alyssa Gwendolyn Corcoran. (audience members cheer) Kaitlin Cowper. Justyna Luise Cox. Jessica Taves Cronk. Kaely Danahy. Noria Dawn Deacon. (audience laughs) Alanah Mary Eileen Delaney. (audience member whistles) Victoria DiGiovanni. Margaret Theresa Flood. Nicole Catherine French. Jacqueline Christine Gallivan. Caryn Graham. Kailey Gruber. Huda Hajjaj. Lauren Gabrielle Halliwushka. Erin Harvey. Amanda Nicole Herzberg. Micha Huxtable. Britney Alaina Karnupis. Cara Emily King. (audience members cheer) Natalie Kit. Daniela Kovacevic. Vicky Lai. Stefanie Anne Lappalainen. Anna Lisowska. – [Child] Yeah, Mommy! (audience laughs) – [Dina] Samantha Joyce Maas-Crowell. (audience members cheer) Laura Susan MacDonald. Humna Malik. Jessica Erin Marques. (audience members cheer) Michelle Ashlyn McArthur. Sharminy Nagulendran. – [Woman] Yeah, Shar! – [Dina] Laura Nelson. Kristen Lee-Anne Page. (audience members cheer) Kyra Posterski. Alyssa Prangley. Parul Razdan. Cydney May Richardson. Kelly Margaret Russell. Jyoti Sahu. Celine See. Selena Singh. Hannah Thompson. Fathima Tuan Kichil. Rachel Helena Weekes. (audience members cheer) Madeleine Weir. – [Man] Yeah, Maddy! – Yusam Iliana Wong. Philip Michael Zbozny. (audience applauds) Tell me when. Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following
graduates of the degree Master of Science, Physiotherapy: Monsoor Amon. Raquel Bachman. Amanda Grace Baxter. Natalie Elizabeth Bertrand. Lovepreet Singh Bhatti. Taryn Blignaut. Nathan Lucas Centritto. (audience members cheer) Jasmine Auying Choi. Rebecca Chow. Julia Marie Colwell. Jessica Antonia Connolly. Emma Conron. Mercy Danquah. (audience members cheer) Shirin Davarpanah Jazi. Laura Ann Fedy. – [Man] Yeah, Laura! – [Dina] Emily Jacqueline Gardner Fisher. Claire Goodin. Nicholas Luke Guiler. Joshua Alexander Hepburn. William A. Jeaurond. Brittany Kafka. Daniel Kim. Anisha Da Silva Kinnarath. (audience members cheer) Natalie Joy Koehler. Tess Kruspe. Greene Lasin. Amanda Marie Lee. (audience members cheer) Melanie Elizabeth Lyons. Heather Elizabeth MacAulay. Aislinn Joan Campbell MacPhail. Katrina Suzanne Majetic. Matthew Dean Mascola. Stephanie Marie McCoy. Madison Anne Genee McKinney. Emily Aiko Miki. (audience member cheers) Joanna Miller. (audience member cheers) Mari Irene Mueller. Kevin Mac Muncaster. (audience members cheer) Liam Andrew Newlands. (audience members cheer)
– Yeah, Liam! – [Dina] Arianne Simonne Paine. Justin Ronald Parker. Alexandra Jordan Pichler. Tristan Robert Kenneth Richardson. – [Woman] Go, Tris! – [Dina] Christopher Rigby. Karly Ann Roser.
(audience laughs) Karly Ann Roser. Brandon Pedro Rozario. Frank Rubino. Nicholas Savatteri. Alissa Marie Settimi. – [Man] (whistles) Go, Alissa! – [Dina] Justin Gregory Smal. Eve Marian Sohn. Beth Song. Anne Catherine Stokes. – [Man] Annie! – [Dina] Christian Mackenzie Tkachyk. Yimo Wang. Courtney Lynn White. (audience member cheers) – [Man] Go, Court! – Miranda Jillayne Wiens. Connor Todd Willis. (audience member cheers) (audience applauds) Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following
graduates of the first degree of Masters of Science of
Speech Language Pathology. Justina Assaad. – Justina!
(audience members cheer) – [Dina] Christine Elizabeth Black. Kristine Judith Caldbick. (audience member cheers) Victoria Charron. Courtney Marie Cizinoski. Hannah Jane Coulter. (audience member cheers) Kennedi Gervais. Jessica Elizabeth Giglia. Sarah Marie Glazewski. (audience member cheers) Sarah Nicolette Graham. Lea Horn. Cadence Yok-Se Ip. Klaudia Kornelia Kruszelnicka. Nadine Cynthia Kuntze. (audience members cheer) Lindsay Lorincz. Megan Lowry. Daniella Manna. Tatjana Medakovic. Rachel Elizabeth Pond. (audience member applauds) Raman Sandhu. – [Man] (cheers) Raman! – [Dina] Shana Train. Miranda Pauline Wayland. (audience members cheer) Madeeha Wyne. (audience members cheer) Deryk Yim. (audience members cheer) Adriana Zoccoli. Thank you. (audience applauds) – [Dr. Thomas] Madam
Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the degree Master of Public Health: Zoha Anjum. (audience member cheers) Gurpinderjit Bajwa. John Battista Fortuna. (audience members cheer) Kayla Jane Lucier. (audience members cheer) Kathleen Dawn Monture. Harman Singh Sandhu. (audience applauds) – [Dr. Whyte] Madam
Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the degree Doctor of Medicine: Dayna Jennifer Austin. Ahmad Khan. (audience members cheer) (audience applauds) – Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the degree Bachelor
of Science in Nursing: Emily Brain. (audience member cheers) Megan Giberson. (audience applauds) – [Elizabeth] Madam
Chancellor, may I present to you the following
graduate of the degree Bachelor of Health Sciences, Midwifery: Sofia Al Balkhi. (audience applauds) – [Stacey] Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following
graduates of the degree Bachelor of Health Sciences, Honours: Jack Chen. (audience applauds) Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of Health Sciences: Meaghan Elizabeth Brown. Kevin Jia Qi Chen. Michael Coomber. Mohammed Alameen Damer. Anthony Dao. Nitish Kumar Dhingra. (audience member cheers) Hong Tian Dong. Rebecca Ann Hayman. – That’s my mom!
(audience member cheers) – [Stacey] Kira Yaja Hu. (audience member cheers) Grace Huang. Sanna Huda. – [Man] Yeah, Sanna! – [Stacey] Rahul Kapur. (audience members cheer) Imaan Kherani. Matilda Kim. (audience members cheer) Francis Lao. (audience members cheer) – [Woman] Let’s go, boy! Let’s go!
(audience laughs) – Wei Edward Li.
(audience member cheers) Randi Mao. Yasna Mehdian. Emily Norris. (audience member cheers) So Won Park. Prasiddha Parthasarathy. – That’s my girl!
(audience members cheer) – [Stacey] Saara Punjani. Dorothy Qian. Yuan Yuan Qiu. Angelica Rivas. Haniah Shaikh. (audience member cheers) Gursharan Sohi. (audience member cheers) Kyle Michelle Soulliere. Shreyas Sreeraman. (audience members cheer) Chunyi Tan. (audience member cheers) Christopher Tarzi. Samantha Visva. (audience member cheers) Nina Vujovic. (audience members cheer) Amy Wang. (audience members cheer) – That’s my sister!
– That’s my sister! (audience laughs) – [Stacey] Chia Hua Emily Yang. (audience member cheers) Grace Yu. Morgan Yuan. Kevin Zhang. – [Woman] Yay, Kevin! (audience applauds) – [Kristen] Madam
Chancellor, may I present to you the following
graduates of the degree Bachelor of Health Sciences,
Physician Assistant: Rachel Ahle. Amna Ansari. Ryan Michael Baker. Kyle Edward Balzereit. Aila Chaudhry. Meredith Ann Cooper. (audience members cheer) Reem Issa. (audience members cheer) Paula Alexandra Jescu. Veerpaul Khosa. (audience members cheer) Paige Jade Marie Loshaw-McClintock. George Mena Morcos. (audience applauds) Nini Nguyen. (audience members cheer) Lana Lauren Phemister. Hayley Proulx. Jaspinder Sandhu. (audience member cheers)
Thank you. Yasmin Shama. (audience members cheer) Khadijah Siddiqui. (Kristen whispers faintly) Cristina Darlene Wiggers. (audience applauds) – Let’s give one more round of applause to all the newest graduands
of the class of 2019. (audience applauds) I would now like to introduce
Dr. Ahmad Firas Khalid, a graduate of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Health Policy, who will be delivering
the valedictory address. – Yeah, Firas! (cheers)
(audience applauds) – To Chancellor Santee Smith, President David Farrar,
Provost Searls Giroux, I practised that many times
before, I apologise for that, the astounding faculty
of McMaster University, dear friends, loving
families, good afternoon. What a pleasant day it is
to be standing here speaking on behalf of the graduating class of 2019. I’m truly honoured to address you today, and I would be remiss
not to start my speech by thanking those who
without their support, this graduation wouldn’t have happened: our friends and our families. On behalf of myself and
my fellow graduates, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are most grateful to you. (audience applauds) I’ll be honest with you, I felt a lot of pressure trying to think of what I can share with a group of highly
intellectual individuals that has not been heard before. I find it especially challenging when others look to me for guidance when I’m still trying to
figure out my own journey. What I wanna share with you today is a personal mantra of mine that is grounded in my
travels around the world, and by the incredible tapestry
of people that I have met and continue to learn from. My mantra has become,
show up and do the work. See, the thing is I come from a family of exceptional individuals, and finding a space where
I could excel was not easy. My mom is a homemaking,
multitasking goddess who carries her role
as a mother, a friend, and wife with utmost pride. My late father… My late father was fearless
beyond life itself, a man who chased his own luck. Growing up, my dad earnestly
told my siblings and I, “Find something you love doing. “If you love selling falafels,
then go and sell falafels.” Now although I love eating
those deep-fried chickpea balls despite the heartburn
I get from eating them, I knew that was not what
I wanted to do in my life, and so my struggle to
figure out what to do was a constant theme and a challenge. At the age of 17, while on a flight back to
university from the Middle East, I read a gossip article about a celebrity doing an internship at the World Health Organisation
in Geneva, Switzerland, and my first thought after
reading that article was, “Oh my God, how cool to
spend the summer in Europe,” but I was determined to find out more about this internship opportunity, and so the minute I landed, I went on the dial-up internet,
I typed, “What is WHO?” I found a few key individuals who I thought were doing exciting work that really interested me. I emailed them all, thinking to myself, “There is no way anyone
will ever answer me,” and to my surprise, to my surprise, I got an answer from Dr. Jose
Martinez, the former director of the Child and Maternal
Health Department, telling me to send him
my first-ever resume. I still remember running frantically in the snow to Career Services, begging them, “Please, help me
create my first-ever resume,” keeping in mind that I was only in my first year of university
and had zero work experience, unless, of course, you
count the one summer where I pretended to be interested
in my dad’s field of work and worked as a phone receptionist. It didn’t go very well. Jose extended an invitation for me to join him for the summer to work on approaches
for the implementation of community-based neonatal
care interventions. Leading up to my
departure, I felt fearless. I was just excited to show
up, to experience new things, and to get some work done. My internship at WHO
resulted in two things: First, it seeded my work ethic and continuous hunger for knowledge, and second, it led me to
appreciate the importance of finding a mentor in life, whether on a professional
or on a personal level. My personal mentor has
always been my mother, who I’m so lucky to be sharing
this special moment with. Mama, say hi to everyone. (laughs) My mother was– (audience applauds) My mother was one of the main reasons I joined the health policy
PhD programme at Mac. As a student at McMaster, I had the opportunity to travel
as a Queen Elizabeth Scholar to the borders of Syria and Lebanon. As part of my research, I
wanted to better understand the health needs of Syrian refugees. I can still feel the knots on my stomach on that long drive to
the dangerous borders, but the minute I showed up, I knew that was where
my work needed to be. My time with the Syrian
refugees confirmed my beliefs that safety is a basic human right. Health is a basic human right. For some countries, this
means providing quality care, affordable health coverage,
and social protection for all refugees and migrants, regardless of their legal status, age, gender, occupation, or religion. (audience applauds) I would like to end my speech today by saying that it is evident
our reality now is one where resources are becoming more limited, opportunities are scarce, and the competition to
get them is fiercer. But in spite of today’s challenges, I firmly believe that showing
up is half the battle. The rest is dependent
on how prepared you are to do the best that you can do, even when the experience is sometimes not what you thought it would be. To be excellent in life,
you must be consistent. Graduating class of 2019, I ask of all you today as you forge ahead to remember your young, fearless spirit, to always show up and
allow yourself to be seen and heard by others. The education you acquired from Mac gives you the chance to be seen. Now let your courage
be your guiding force. Remind yourself that it is
okay to say you’re stressed, that you need help, that
you are seeking support. Lean on your peers and
your inner support circles, as it takes a village to stand tall. I know that I’m no exception to the incredible people
in this room today, that many of my fellow graduates here have tremendously rich stories. Continue to build your life
story one experience at a time. Find inspiration in your
work, in your personal lives, in your research, and in your worldviews, and finally, find ways to
share your story with others. Thank you all and congratulations. (audience applauds) – Thank you, Ahmad and Mrs. Khalid. That was an incredibly
encouraging and inspiring talk. I would now like to
introduce Dr. Paul O’Byrne, Dean of the Faculty of Health
Sciences, who will present the Distinguished Alumni
Award for the Sciences. – The recipient of the
2019 McMaster University Distinguished Alumni
Award is Alba DiCenso. (audience applauds) An exemplary educator,
researcher and author, Alba DiCenso is internationally known for her pioneering work
in evidence-based nursing, and is one of Canada’s leading experts on advanced practise nursing, including the roles and effectiveness of nurse practitioners and
clinical nurse specialists. Her work and advocacy have
influenced policy related to the development of nurse practitioners at the provincial, national,
and international levels. Dr. DiCenso graduated from
McMaster’s School of Nursing in 1974 before earning a
Master’s of Science degree in Design, Measurement and Evaluation, also from McMaster University, in 1981. She then completed her PhD at
the University of Waterloo. She joined McMaster
School of Nursing faculty in 1978 as a lecturer, later becoming a professor
with a joint appointment in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She held the Canada Health
Services Research Foundation, Canada Institutes of Health
Research, that is CHSRF/CIHR, Chair in Advanced Nursing
Practise for a decade, working to increase the number of nurse researchers in Canada. She also served as
director of the CHSRF/CIHR Ontario Training Centre in Health Services and Policy Research, a consortium of six Ontario
universities working to provide graduate education
for those interested in becoming health services researchers. The co-founder of the Canadian Centre for Evidence-Based Nursing, Dr. DiCenso also founded
and became lead editor of the Evidence-Based Nursing Journal, published by the British Medical Journal and the Royal College of
Nursing in the United Kingdom. She was first author of
the influential textbook, “Evidence-Based Nursing: A
Guide to Clinical Practise.” Dr. DiCenso, who retired as
professor emerita in 2013, is a fellow of the Canadian
Academy of Health Sciences and an honorary member of the Nurse Practitioners’
Association of Ontario, as well as a recipient of the Canadian Nurses
Association Centennial Award. She was inducted into the Faculty of Health
Sciences Community of Distinction in 2016, and is a member
of the Order of Canada, receiving this honour for research in evidence-based nursing, for her contributions to the development of nurse practitioners. McMaster University is proud
to recognise Dr. Alba DiCenso of the class of 1974 and 1981 with the Distinguished
Alumni Award for 2019. (audience applauds) – Thank you, Dr. O’Byrne,
for your kind words. Chancellor Smith, acting President Farrar, McMaster faculty, fellow
alumni, honoured guests, family and friends of our graduates, and especially you, the graduates, I would like to thank the
McMaster Alumni Association for this award. On behalf of the association, I extend a warm welcome
to you, the graduates, who are McMaster’s newest alumni. Through our alumni association, you will learn about the many ways that you can remain engaged in the vibrant McMaster community. Receiving this award has
given me occasion to reflect on my years at McMaster, and I would like to
speak about that briefly. I am a first-generation
daughter of Italian immigrants who came to Canada in
1951 with very little. My parents were among the
first Italian immigrants in our city to support
their daughter to leave home and to attend university. It was not an easy decision, and I am eternally grateful to them. When I graduated from
McMaster 45 years ago with my nursing degree, I already had a clear sense of
where my career was heading, having been offered a full-time position in public health nursing. It was a role I thoroughly enjoyed and one I expected to
continue indefinitely. Four years into the position, I received an unexpected call from my dean of nursing at
McMaster, Dr. Dorothy Kergin, inviting me to come and teach
in the School of Nursing. They were short a faculty member. I am embarrassed now to
tell you how reluctant I was to even consider her offer. I was very happy in my clinical role and had never considered teaching. She invited me to meet with
her to discuss the role, and to my surprise, she had a series of
interviews booked for me. I went from one to the other, explaining why I didn’t want the job. (audience laughs) To add more pressure, my public health nursing
director encouraged me and offered to hold my position for a year in case I wanted to return. And so in 1978, I began a new journey at McMaster and never looked back, one
that would last 35 years, more than half my life. As new graduates, you too will no doubt
face unpredictable twists and turns in your career journey, and while you may now have a clear plan, I encourage you to remain open
to unexpected opportunities. You are our future
clinicians, researchers, educators, and policy influencers. Your work will affect people’s
lives in dramatic ways. To that end, I offer
three pieces of advice for your consideration: First, keep learning. The world celebrates the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth this year. He said, “Live as if you
were to die tomorrow. “Learn as if you were to live forever.” From him, we learn the importance of critically examining our
own ways of thinking and doing, of learning from others
and from our past mistakes, and above all, excuse me, changing our views when proven wrong. Second, use your knowledge
to make a difference. McMaster is a leader in
evidence-based practise. Be it at the clinical or policy level, arm yourself with strong research evidence to enhance quality of care
and to influence policy. Your strong voices are
needed in many areas, such as improving access to health care, protecting our treasured
universal health care system and enhancing it to include
essential health services, such as universal public pharmacare. Third, respect everyone’s value. You will leave here today
with a priceless investment: a degree from one of the
world’s top 75 universities and Canada’s most
research-intensive university. There are many less fortunate individuals who have not had the
opportunities that you have had. As Patrick Deane, our former
president, has stated, “Personal fortune is inseparable
from the communal good.” We live in a world of
growing income inequality and a global refugee crisis. With the privilege of higher
education comes the expectation that your future actions
will aim to benefit, value and honour all of humanity, regardless of our differences. And now I offer you my warmest wishes for a happy and successful
career, and I leave you with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s
definition of success: “To laugh often and much, “to win the respect of intelligent people “and the affection of children, “to earn the appreciation
of honest critics “and to endure the
betrayal of false friends, “to appreciate beauty, to
find the best in others “to leave the world a little better, “whether by a healthy child, “a garden patch or a
redeemed social condition, “to know that even one
life has breathed easier “because you have lived. “This is the meaning of success.” Thank you very much for the
honour of addressing you on this special occasion. (audience applauds) – Congratulations, Alba, and thank you for what is
surely precious advice. May I now invite our acting
President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. David Farrar, to deliver his address. – Again, congratulations to
McMaster’s graduating class. I know how hard you’ve worked to get here. There’ll be much hard work to come, but today, you get a chance to pause and to celebrate the amazing
things you’ve accomplished. I just want to say a very few words about small steps and giant
leaps, and today is about both. Today each of you walked across this stage and received your degree. It literally only took a few small steps, but by the time you had completed that, you had made the giant leap
from a student to an alumni, and that changed everything. Why small steps and giant leaps? It’s because I was alive before
people walked on the moon, and if you consider that day, July the 20th, 1969, it’s one of those days
that changed everything. You probably know the story. Neil Armstrong climbed
down from the lunar lander and he spoke what is one
of the most famous quotes of modern times: “That’s one small step for man,
one giant leap for mankind.” You may not know that
Armstrong left a word out. He was supposed to say, “That’s one small step for a man,” which of course would have
made a lot more sense. I only mention that because if you tripped or stumbled as you walked
across the stage today, don’t worry about it. You’re in very good company. Every generation has its
goals and its aspirations that seem impossible until the
moment that they’re achieved. For my generation, it was the moonshot, and I shared in that dream as
it became closer to a reality, and the day Armstrong set foot on another world is etched in my memory. Today, 50 years later,
it still inspires me. So what about your giant leap? Your world is very different from the one when men walked on the moon. In some ways there’s been much progress. For instance, if the moon
mission were to happen today, there’s some chance that
the crew would include more than just white men. But today, there are also
different challenges. 50 years ago we had the Cold War. Today we have climate change, the rapid advance of
artificial intelligence, and a slide into authoritarian societies in many parts of the world. Universities have changed too, but I believe our vision for
higher education continues to prepare our current graduates for the world that they face. You have more choice, more freedom, and more power than any
previous generation. Technology is a part of that. Your cell phones pack more computing power than NASA used collectively
to put people on the moon, and they’re a source of unlimited information
and entertainment. You also have the opportunity to become the best version of yourself, to discover, to embrace who you are, to live, love, learn, work, and experience the
world in your own terms, but the question is, what
will you do with that freedom, that choice, that power? There are practical answers: start a business, patent a new drug, help the weak, guide the strong, give back to your community,
rise through the ranks, lead, innovate, entertain. These may seem like small steps, but they’re real and they’re
valuable things to do. What I want to encourage you, though, is to reserve some energy
for the giant leaps, for the possibility of
achieving a moonshot. Don’t be daunted by the pace of change even though that pace
accelerates every day: technology, social values, entertainment, a relentless news cycle,
politics, the job market, climate change, research and education. I look at how much the world
has changed over my lifetime and I know how much more you
will see in your lifetime, but you have the skills and the knowledge that have prepared you for that. Maybe your moonshot will have
to do with global warming or inequality or social injustice, medicine, health, technology, but given the pace of change, it will probably be something
we can’t even imagine. So how do you prepare for that? Look back over your years at McMaster, and I hope you’ll see the answer. You prepare by being
adaptive, by being diligent, collaborative, multidisciplinary,
ambitious and determined, by challenging assumptions and focusing on what needs to be done. One last point: When you receive your
diploma from McMaster, you’ll probably note on it that there’s only one name, yours, but I suspect many people have
helped you get to this day: your family, friends, teachers, and mentors who supported,
inspired, and cheered you on. So I hope you take some
time in the near future to thank all those people who helped you make it to this afternoon. The end of your studies,
the granting of your degree may seem like you’re
crossing a finish line, but you’re actually just beginning. Today you took a small step. Your giant leap is yet to come, and I wish you the very
best in that journey. (audience applauds) – Once again, congratulations
to the class of 2019. I myself am a McMaster alumni, and I look forward to seeing
where you go from here. Mary Law and Alba, congratulations
on your accomplishments and your amazing contributions. Ms. Alba eloquently said that we are now, that you are all now graduates and members of this wonderful group of
alumni, the McMaster family. Dr. Farrar, you’ve given
us a lot to think about. I really like the analogy of
small steps and giant leaps. I know that I personally will remember those words of wisdom. Graduates, take those wise
words with you as you go. My very best wishes to you all. Congratulations. (audience applauds) – I would ask that you please
remain standing at your seats until the academic procession and the graduates has left the hall. Please join now in singing
our national anthem, and after the singing of the anthem, this convocation stands adjourned. (“O Canada”) ♪ O Canada ♪ ♪ Our home and native land ♪ ♪ True patriot love in all of us command ♪ ♪ With glowing hearts we see thee rise ♪ ♪ The True North, strong and free ♪ ♪ From far and wide ♪ ♪ O Canada, we stand on guard for thee ♪ ♪ God keep our land ♪ ♪ Glorious and free ♪ ♪ O Canada ♪ ♪ We stand on guard for thee ♪ ♪ O Canada ♪ ♪ We stand on guard for thee ♪ (audience applauds) (lively piano music)

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