Grads celebrate first-ever virtual convocation
Hundreds of graduates of the Faculty of Medicine class of 2020 gathered with friends, family and faculty to attend the first-ever virtual convocation ceremony on Tuesday, June 16. The convocation marked the graduation of more than 200 students in the MD, PhD, MSc and BSc (Translational and Molecular Medicine) programs, as well as those receiving graduate diplomas in Population Health Risk Assessment and Management.
The ceremony, broadcast on YouTube, featured speeches by University of Ottawa President Jacques Frémont, Chancellor Calin Rovinescu, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Bernard Jasmin, and co-valedictorians Carter William Lim and Alexandre Rochon. The video recording remains available for those who missed the event.
In his speech the president encouraged graduates to look with optimism toward the future.
“I know you may be worried about your future and wonder what sort of opportunities might lie ahead in the months and years to come," Mr. Frémont said. "Let me reassure you, and remind you that no matter the circumstances, your future is bright."
The chancellor’s speech evoked the “ancient and noble tradition” of convocation in congratulating the graduates for their “focus and commitment in overcoming a deeply disruptive set of challenges” to complete their degrees.
“These past few months have been unlike any other in our institution’s history, indeed in our country’s history, and yet every one of you stepped up to meet the challenges it posed,” he said.
Dean Jasmin urged the graduating physicians and medical researchers to remember the values of courage, community and collaboration as they confront diseases like COVID-19 in their professional lives.
“We must understand this virus in order to defeat it,” he said. “That understanding will come from scientists in the lab and physicians on the front lines, working together to develop and test treatments, in a way that is safe, ethical, rigorous, and as rapid as possible.”
The co-valedictorians peppered their heartfelt yet light-hearted speeches with inside jokes, kudos to their classmates, and references to being the only valedictorians in uOttawa Med history to deliver their addresses in jeans (Dr. Rochon) and pajamas (Dr. Lim).
“While we have learned a lot in medical school, let us hope that this is only chapter one of what is, hopefully, a wonderful career in medicine,” said Dr. Lim. “Let’s keep learning, let’s keep finding inspiration, and let’s keep having the humility to ask for help.”
The speeches were followed by inspirational messages from alumni, the general conferring of degrees, and, for MD students, the pronouncement of the oath of professional engagement, led by Dr. Melissa Forgie, vice-dean of Undergraduate Medical Education.