Cue the pomp and circumstance: Canada just gained its first cannabis graduates.
On June 20, the first cohort of 23 students from the NC’s trailblazing Commercial Cannabis Production graduate certificate program were among 600 graduates to cross the stage on day four of NC’s 2019 Spring Convocation ceremonies. The first of its kind in Canada, the program was launched in the fall of 2018 to meet a significant demand for qualified, professional workers in Canada’s pioneering cannabis industry.
“This is a historic moment for our College and for postsecondary education in our country. We are proud to celebrate the first graduates in Canada to earn a postsecondary credential in Commercial Cannabis Production,” said NC president Dan Patterson. “This is a testament to how our pre-emptive College responds to industry needs and trends, and these highly skilled graduates will help to drive the growth of this important industry sector.”
“It feels amazing to be in the first ever graduating class,” said new Commercial Cannabis Production graduate Rob Clements, who will be working as a grow lead at London-based licensed producer Indiva. “I get to go out into the workforce with a credential that only 23 people have.”
The cannabis graduates were among 300 new graduates from NC’s School of Environment and Horticultural Studies, as well as the School of Technology Studies, celebrated at the morning ceremony. Guest speaker Carolyne Watts, plant manager of General Motors in St. Catharines and a member of the Niagara College Board of Governors, was presented with an Honorary Bachelor Degree in Applied Studies and delivered the convocation address.
Watts told the new grads that it was an exciting time to begin their careers, with much opportunity for growth and innovation.
“You are truly fortunate to be entering the workforce at a time when technology can help you break traditional moulds and carve out entirely new futures,” she said. “You have the opportunity to invent and develop things that haven’t even been dreamt of yet. So, use the creative innovation skills you’ve learned here to expand and improve your job, your business, your community and the world.”
Watts encouraged graduates to challenge themselves and to move beyond their comfort zones, which was the driving motivation through her own career in the manufacturing and automotive industry as she took on roles not traditionally held by women.
“Never stop challenging yourself to achieve your version of your life goal,” she told the Class of 2019.
At the afternoon ceremony, Mike Crawley, Ontario provincial affairs reporter for CBC News, received an Honorary Diploma in Journalism, and addressed more than 300 new graduates from the School of Media Studies and School of Trades. Crawley spoke of how he has adapted to dramatic shifts in technology as well as increasing demands on reporters during his 30-year career as a journalist, and emphasized the importance of embracing change in today’s modern workplace.
“Whether you are graduating today with a diploma in computer programming or carpentry, game development or graphic design, or even journalism or broadcasting, technology will change your field; be ready for it,” he said. “Except in one particular way, and that is having pride in the fundamentals of a job well done. That is the one thing that will not change in your career.”
Crawley also acknowledged the diversity of the graduating class of 2019, noting that Thursday’s ceremony included graduates from 16 countries, and that students from more than 90 countries will graduate over the course of the week.
“That’s nearly half the world represented at this one college,” he said. “That brings a profound richness of backgrounds and cultures to the educational experience here. And that enriches the learning that you will take away from Niagara College. Wherever you go to work.”
More than 5,100 students from more than 90 countries will graduate from NC this spring, making the College’s Class of 2019 its largest to date.
Spring Convocation Ceremonies will conclude on June 21 with another historic milestone for the College as it celebrates Canada’s first graduates in Artisan Distilling at the morning ceremony, among 489 graduates from the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, and the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Sport. Guest speaker Kelly L. Brown, senior vice-president, Legal and Corporate Affairs for Arterra Wines Canada, will receive an Honorary Graduate Certificate in Wine Business Management at the ceremony.
(Source: Niagara College news release)