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Date: May 29, 2008

UVic Convocation: Meet The Class of 2008

The University of Victoria community will join the families and friends of more than 3,000 graduates in honouring the successful completion of their studies when the university conducts eight convocation ceremonies—twice daily—from June 3 to 6 in the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium.

A total of 3,111 students have met requirements for degrees, diplomas or certificates. Here’s an introduction to some of the members of the UVic Class of 2008 who are available for interviews:

Next stop, Siberia: Robin Mazumder and Sean Burr will barely have time to frame their diplomas before they depart for the Siberian town of Khanty-Mansiysk. Their shared interests in helping the disabled will take them to a Russian orphanage where they will set up an “integration through recreation” program for kids with disabilities, part of an often marginalized group in Russian society.

Sweet future for a maligned maple: Traditional maple syrup is usually associated with the sugary maples of Quebec, but on Vancouver Island Deirdre Bruce is creating an appreciation for the region’s bigleaf maple syrup. The geography major says the bigleaf maple, undervalued by the forest industry as well as syrup tasters, produces a “delicious, dark syrup.” The Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival she organized in Duncan drew 1,400 people and local breweries are interested in tapping into the homegrown flavour.

Grizzlies and food chain toxins: Jennie Christensen’s passion for wildlife led her into BC’s central coast and interior to investigate toxin levels in grizzly bears. For her PhD in Earth and Ocean Sciences she analysed hair and fecal samples in wild bears, as well as fat taken from legally hunted bears. In general, bears that eat salmon show higher concentrations of DDT and PCBs than interior bears, which eat mainly vegetation. But the interior bears have “significantly higher” concentrations of PBDEs (fire retardant chemicals).

Dazzling designs: Kate Costin was drawn from Toronto by the UVic Theatre program where she discovered her flair for costume design, under the tutelage of Prof. Mary Kerr. Now it’s back to big city life, in New York, where she’ll attend the fashion studies program at Parsons: The New School of Design, home of television’s “Project Runway.”

Going extra distances: Ruth Addison and Masoud Mohamed Ali are likely coming the furthest to attend convocation. From Ghana and Kenya, respectively. They’ll receive professional development certificates in early childhood development. They are among 23 students from nine African countries completing the web-based and face-to-face program offered by UVic’s Early Childhood Development Virtual University and the School of Child and Youth Care.

A leap into law: Hadley Friedland was in Edmonton running a life-skills group for troubled teenagers when her sister gave her an inspired birthday present: the law school admission test. At UVic Law, her earlier work experience led to a focus on the interaction between the legal system and Indigenous people, although not without some initial doubts. “I quit my job, I moved here with two kids, and I thought, ‘What have I done?’ But once I started classes, I realized I just love law.”

From co-op to cop: One day she was completing her final co-op work term on the way to a degree in recreation and health education. The next day Kristen Greffard was sworn-in by Victoria City Police as an officer-in-training. “My (four) co-op positions weren’t necessarily connected to my career of choice,” she says, “but they gave me a better appreciation for the people and initiatives in my community.”

Learning and giving back: Dianne Buchan, who grew up in Winnipeg and spent summers at the family home in Bearskin Lake First Nation in northwestern Ontario, realized that she just “wanted to give back to my community.” Now that she’s completed her master’s in Indigenous Governance she credits the program with transforming her way of thinking and providing her with a framework of the values and concepts of Indigenous governance. She’s working as a policy analyst in the First Nations Health Council for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, in Vancouver.

Part-time studies, full-time commitment: On the first day of her part-time MBA studies Emma Coombe wondered if she was crazy to squeeze school into her evenings when she already had a full-time job with BC Ferries. Three years later, after many nights with little sleep and pizza dinners, the 30-year-old says time flew by—and she has the career prospects and credentials to show for it all.

Previous convocation releases:

UVic Medallist a Triple Threat
Convocation 2008: Academic Medallists http://communications.uvic.ca/releases/release.php?display=release&id=934Medals
UVic to Award Four Honorary Degrees


Media contacts:

Mike McNeney (Alumni Communications) at 250-721-7642 or mmcneney@uvic.ca


UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

(image: fern)