Briercrest graduation services mark many transitions

Julie Cole | Apr 29, 2013
College valedictorian Bethany Johnson gives her address during graduation services at Briercrest College and Seminary. College valedictorian Bethany Johnson gives her address during graduation services at Briercrest College and Seminary.College valedictorian Bethany Johnson gives her address during graduation services at Briercrest College and Seminary.

Transition was the theme at this year’s graduation ceremony for Briercrest College and Seminary students.

Besides the usual excitement of graduates completing their degree programs and beginning new challenges, these ceremonies were also the last ones with Dwayne Uglem as president.

In his commencement address, Uglem shared how a good education can give perspective that brings transformation.

“A good education will help you find the end of yourself; the edges of your knowledge,” he said. “It will confront you with your biases, your prejudices and even your self-righteousness. Briercrest has invited me to that kind of an education.”

Uglem continued to share that this kind of education invites students to see the world from a new vantage point.

“We need to be invited out of our box – this world of our own creation – and be invited into the world that God has created,” he said. “It’s about His name, His purposes and His glory.”

College valedictorian Bethany Johnson echoed the theme in her exhortation to graduating students.

“Moving into a future with so many unknowns is a daunting prospect,” she said. “You may never take another class or write another exam, but never lose your desire to learn because you aren’t finished with that yet. More importantly, God’s not finished with you yet.”

Seminary valedictorian Catherine Ostapchuck shared how continuing to keep a heart for learning can bring about important personal change.

“(Most of us) came to higher education probably expecting answers but instead I believe we began to ask the right questions,” she explained. “We do not come expecting to change as much as expecting to learn. God doesn’t expect us to learn so much as to be changed.”

Along with the conferring of diplomas, several awards of honour were presented throughout the graduation service.

Abraham Jolly received an honorary doctorate for the important work he is doing as the director general for the Cree school board in the James Bay area of northern Quebec.

Five college graduates were inducted into the Delta Epsilon Chi Honour Society: Bethany Johnson, Amy Crocker, Jordana McNally, Daniel Gonske, and Alisha Epp.

Three seminary graduates received seminary excellence awards: Brent Foster – for pastoral ministry; Paris Perry – for leadership and management; and Joshua Knowles, for research.

The graduation service concluded with a prayer of dedication and blessing by Michael Pawelke, Briercrest’s president elect.