Convocation 2010: The end of one journey… and the beginning of another

Skyler Veazey delivered the Valediction at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Convocation ceremony May 28.  / Photo: Owen Egan
Skyler Veazey delivered the Valediction at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Convocation ceremony May 28. / Photo: Owen Egan

By Skyler Veazey

I had considered not attending my convocation on May 28. On n’a pas été obligé d’assister à la cérémonie. So, why would I want to drive all the way back to Montreal for this two-hour ritual almost a month after my last final exam? I only truly understood the answer to this question after the ceremony was over.

The 15 seconds it took to cross the stage that day was preceded by four years of hard work. There were nights of very little sleep as I frantically tried to finish a research report. There were occasions before exams that I spent the entire day in my room studying. Yet, it all paid off as I accepted my diploma. As everyone’s name was read out along with their respective awards and distinctions, I came to realize that “hard working” was a characteristic found throughout the Macdonald Campus Class of 2010.

This ethic was transformed into unique accomplishments. Some students can now understand every clause of an ISO 9000 system. Des autres ont maîtrisés l’identification des plantes. The Farm Management and Technology students presented their farm projects that took months of hard work. And many graduate students transformed their research data into published theses.

Yet, not all the accomplishments were academic. A number of students learned to live on their own and cook for themselves for the first time. Plusieurs d’étudiants ont participé à la réalisation de la politique de “Bring Your Own Mug” dans le Link Café sur le campus. Others chopped wood competitively as members of the Woodsmen team ou gagné des rubans pour des classes comme les aubergines ou les farines à la compétition de jugement de Mac.

Above all, everyone present at the ceremony successfully completed all their courses, tous les expériences de laboratoire, and all exams to earn their respective degrees. With more than 300 students graduating, that was quite a feat. However, none of these were accomplished alone. The fact that so many students were in attendance last Friday was a testament to that. We were all back on campus surrounded by our peers with whom we studied, laughed and worked on projects for the past few years. Les professeurs qui ont pris le temps de répondre à nos questions et de clarifier certaines notions de leur cours étaient là aussi. And last, but certainly not least, my fellow classmates and I, were in the presence of our families, whose encouraging words sustained us through our stress, complaints, and doubts throughout our years at McGill.

Contrary to how this article may read thus far, my time at McGill was not all work. I made sure that I found time to relax and be with my friends. The Morgan Arboretum provided a much-needed oasis from the stress of everyday schoolwork. Along the way it also gave me the opportunity to learn the process of making maple syrup, experience a lunar eclipse away from the city lights, et d’essayer de faire de la raquette pour la première fois.

In the middle of winter, snowball fights were a common occurrence followed by tire sur la neige. I gained friends from six continents who taught me phrases in their native languages and opened my eyes to new perspectives. We explored Montreal’s tunnels together, passed evenings singing karaoke, or simply kept one another company on the shuttle bus between campuses. These everyday experiences, while they may not have been anything incredible at the time, are fond memories that will remain with me when I look back on my time at university.

When I went home a few weeks ago, the question on everyone’s mind was, “What are your plans for next year?” Luckily, the connections I made through my professors and the Food Science Association enabled me to answer this question definitively. I will be returning full time to the company with which I had an internship last summer to be trained as a flavourist. While the background I received as a Food Science major allowed me to find the job in the first place, the hands-on experience I will receive at the company is a great opportunity to keep learning. I am looking forward to mixing creativity with science in order to flavour ice creams and savoury dishes and to experience working life in Montreal.

So why did I attend convocation? Because it is a time for celebration! It is a celebration of hard work, a celebration of our accomplishments, a celebration of the memories, and a celebration of the future with those that helped us to get there. It is a transition filled with excitement and hope.

I wish happiness to all those embarking on this new chapter of their lives. Congratulations, félicitations, to all 2010 graduates.

Skyler Veazey graduated with a B.Sc in Food Science and was the valedictorian for May 28 Macdonald Campus Convocation ceremony. She also won the Robert Haddon Common Convocation Prize awarded annually to the student achieving the highest aggregate average in the final year of the B.Sc.(F.Sc.).