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Embrace the beauty of life, acclaimed poet tells UBC graduates

June 07, 2013 - 12:12 PM

Patrick Lane devoted his life to writing after life-changing moment

Patrick Lane discovered beauty and the fragility of life on a cold Okanagan winter day in 1958, as a 19-year-old labourer. Waiting beside the highway to be picked up for work, the Vernon native found a sapphire butterfly. He cupped it in his hands and went into the warmth of his fruit-picker’s shack. But it was too late and the delicate creature expired.

Shortly thereafter he decided to devote his career to writing and poetry, to nurture and treasure the beauty of life. Thursday, the Vancouver Island author of more than 27 books of poetry, a book of short stories and a memoir of his battles with addiction was awarded an honourary doctoral degree during Convocation ceremonies at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

“There will come a time when a sapphire butterfly will fall into your life,” Lane told graduates. Do not be afraid to embrace it, the Governor General’s Award-winning poet said. “So that beauty may find for brief a period to rest.”

UBC President Prof. Stephen Toope told students they are graduating into a complicated and perplexing world. Governments around the world are fixated on the limited notion that an educated person needs to generate skills to fuel the economy and match available jobs.

“The risk to government is that they set their sights too low,” Toope said. “The skills that we need in our fast-changing society include the ability to work effectively together in teams; to sift, analyze and evaluate the plethora of information that comes at us minute by minute; to draw creative connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.”

Toope urged graduates to become engaged citizens.

“Citizens voice opinions and organize their societies’ they take action in the face of injustice and inequality. Educated citizens deploy their critical capacity, and empathetic judgment to become leaders of citizens. That is your potential and one that I wish our governments would more firmly embrace.”

UBC Chancellor Sarah Morgan-Silvester said graduates are entering a transition in their lives, and it takes courage to go from student to the next stage of life. There are setbacks and challenges but these too are part of the transition, she said.

She likened graduation to spring renewal as gardens come to life and warm sunny days replace the dull greyness and cold of winter.

“Change is  a challenge. Even so, I do hope you will step out beyond the exposed fault line and seek the growth of your own personal spring.”

UBC Okanagan campus Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal Prof. Deborah Buszard reminded graduates that they are the change agents of the future.

"When you began as students of UBC, you were encouraged to make this university experience your own. Many times during your student lives, you have heard the UBC motto ‘Tuum est. It is yours, or it is up to you’," Buszard said. "Now that you are graduating, this phrase takes on new meaning. The future, in fact, is up to you."

Buszard pointed to the social and environmental challenges that exist in the Okanagan and around the world, reminding the graduating class that their university education and experiences have equipped them to improve their communities and contribute to the world in meaningful ways.

"Our graduates are the impact we have on the world. You make real our ambitions. It is over to you now," Buszard told the graduates. "You have the capacity for bold and great contributions to the world. It is up to you, and we are very proud to have been a part of your preparation for that challenge."

Thursday’s three Convocation ceremonies saw graduates from the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences and Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies collect their degrees.

On Friday, students from the Faculty of Education, School of Engineering and the three schools of the Faculty of Health and Social Development – Exercise Sciences and Health, Nursing and Social Work will graduate during two ceremonies.


Students awarded medals as heads of graduating class

Ten students are being recognized with gold medals for being at the top of their graduating class at UBC’s Okanagan campus convocation.

The awards are led by the Governor-General’s Gold Medal, awarded the student with the highest academic achievement in the College of Graduate Studies. The 2013 award recipient is Tamil Rainanne Kendall, who earned an interdisciplinary doctoral degree in anthropology and health sciences.

Individual awards for heads of graduating classes include:
APEC Gold Medal for University of BC Medal in Engineering – Samuel Yew, Kelowna BC, Engineering Bachelor of Applied Science degree.
University of BC Medal in Arts – Meghan Merrie-Anne Ross, Bachelor of Arts degree.
University of BC Medal in Education – Roberta Necole Snow, Keremeos BC, Bachelor of Education Elementary degree.
University of BC Medal in Fine Arts – Kevin Jesuino, Edmonton, AB, Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
University of BC Medal in Human Kinetics – Carey Lynn Simpson, Kelowna BC, Bachelor of Human Kinetics degree.
University of BC Medal in Management – Veronika (Vickova) Kyjonka, Kelowna BC, Bachelor of Management degree.
University of BC Medal Nursing – Nicole Elizabeth Hudson, Kelowna BC, Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
University of BC Medal in Science – Mallory Flynn, Canmore AB, Bachelor of Science degree.
University of BC Medal in Social Work – Ingeborg Kooijman, Vernon BC, Bachelor of Social Work degree.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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