Amanda McGinnis and Danika Brandvold

    • Amanda McGinnisThank you Dr. Gale for your warm introduction. Amanda and I could not be more humbled, thrilled, and positively honoured to be representing our graduating class on this podium today. So pardon us while we use this small opportunity to document the event in the best way we know how… everybody smile! *Selfie with crowd in the background!*

      What a good looking class. So beautiful. Hashtag no filter...

      For some weeks now, we’ve been asked countless times: “how does it feel to be graduating?” We shrug. We grumble. We say things like “yeah, it’s alright I guess.” The next chapter of this journey is much bigger than any exam, term paper, or presentation we’ve ever handed in. And that’s a scary thought. It has, after all, been a few long, difficult, and routine driven years. It feels like this day has been a long time coming; like the latest assignment we’ve ever handed in. But what comes next is much bigger. What do we do with all this free time? How much stuff is on Netflix these days anyways? Maybe a years worth? If we’re lucky? Well, what about the other 30+ years? What are we supposed to do with those...?

      Danika BrandvoldThere’s so much talk today about our doomed generation. We’re the self-entitled, selfie-taking kids who expect too much and put in too small an effort. We’re told daily that our generation is doomed to make “extra hot, non-fat, cinnamon dolce lattes” for the rest of our lives. I’m not an expert, but I don’t think that’s what our generation means when they say YOLO...

      You know what, we don’t believe that. Any of it. And we’re here to tell all the Gen Y critics, that they’re wrong.

      We’ve spent the last four years being shaped by bright and often strange minds. We’ve learned the power of our own voices, and what we can achieve through advocacy, connection, and hard work. We’ve learned to question everything and seek it out from all sides - not just the side that is easiest to understand. We’ve spent years building a community with our peers and getting our hands dirty with practical class work. We’ve become capable, creative, intelligent, talented observers and citizens. We are no longer the bystanders of life and society at large. Today, we are the upstanders. We are the next wave of change, decision-making, and adaptive growth in the world we’ve spent so long learning about. And that is without a doubt a huge cause for celebration and excitement. So before we say goodbye today, we would like to take this time to express our deepest gratitude for this school and what it’s given us.

      To the instructors who imbedded in us the power of critical thought and expression... to the teachers who are a truly magnificent group of dedicated human beings, thank you for taking the time to know us, and guide us through one of the largest chapters of our lives. We dedicate our graduation to you. To the school administration, janitorial, security, and other support staff, our sincere thanks. To Tim Hortons, and all the coffee venders around campus without whom there wouldn be no students - just a bunch of zombies - thank goodness for you and your sweet caffeine. Keep vending.

      And lastly, we would like to thank our peers. To the friends who carried us to the finish line, who picked up an extra double double for 8:30AM classes, who proof read countless papers and designed thousands of flash cards, cue cards, and vocab sheets, and reminded us “yes, for the fifth time, convocation is on June 2nd at 10am” - to those people, the people sitting on your left and right - thank you for being here with us. Thank you for helping us laugh through the stress, and keep our eyes on the prize. As we go our separate ways, we hope that we can keep encouraging each other to move forward, and continue to improving upon ourselves by learning from our experiences, communities, and each other.

      So as our time together comes to a close, who better to send us off than Dr Seuss?

      “You're off to Great Places!
      Today is your day!
      Your mountain is waiting,
      So... get on your way.”

      Congratulations class of 2014! Let’s hear it!