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Taking time to recognize your achievements


I don’t believe there is a series of events more important to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Western University than our student convocations.

The mission of the University is to help advance society. It does so by training the next generation of young scholars, and also by conducting research that advances each field of inquiry. Convocation is a very tangible way to celebrate the University’s contribution to this mission, as our students are the entire reason we can achieve this goal.

Every professor I know wants their students to leave better prepared to take on the world and knows that each of their students will participate to some degree in moving society forward. Convocation celebrates and acknowledges the growth that the University imparts on its students and provides us with an opportunity to tell students how proud we are of their achievement, and how certain we are that they are ready to make a difference.

Why might attending convocation be a big deal for you? I am certain that each of you will have your own reasons for attending or not attending this special ceremony, but I would like to suggest the following three reasons:

Live in the present
I see a lot of young people living in the future and forgetting about pausing and celebrating what they have achieved in the present. You have put a lot of work and effort into attaining your degree. I understand that the journey is still underway and you may see the degree as simply a step toward the ultimate goal, but pausing at each major step and acknowledging the accomplishment can make the whole journey so much more worthwhile. Attaining your degree is a major life milestone — it, and your effort applied to attain it, is definitely worth celebrating.

Thankfulness and appreciation
Few of us reach this milestone on our own without strong support from family and friends. Convocation means a great deal to your parents, grandparents, siblings and anyone else who is close to you. In most cases, these people want to celebrate your achievement with you and convocation provides a dignified and public forum for your support network to acknowledge and celebrate your success.

Have fun
Convocation is actually quite a fun event. I really enjoy attending convocation, so much so that I actually attend several every year. I like the pageantry, I like seeing all the happy students and family members, and I like listening to the messages passed on to the graduates from our leaders and honorary degree recipients. But mostly, I like seeing the students whom I have come to know during their time at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry receive their degrees. I feel it has been an honour to get to know them and interact with them, and it is exciting to see them move to the next phase of their development. Seeing our students graduate gives me hope that the future will be fine and that humanity will continue to thrive.

Whether or not you are graduating this year, I hope to see all of you at the convocation ceremony when the time arrives for you.

To our graduates this spring, I wish you all the best and know that you are ready for the next step in your lives. Go get them, and stay purple and proud.

Andrew J. Watson, PhD
Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies