Tag Archives: Poet Laureate

Ontario’s First Poet Laureate Sheds Light On Adversity For Fall 2021 Grads

Randell Adjei convocation address: Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first poet laureate, addresses NC’s Fall 2021 graduates during a video message played during the livestream ceremonies as NC president Sean Kennedy and VP Academic Fiona Allan watch from the Welland Campus./Niagara College photos.

Like Niagara College’s Fall Class of 2021, who had to overcome unprecedented challenges to graduate during a global pandemic, Randell Adjei has faced adversity.

But when Ontario’s first poet laureate shared his words of wisdom as part of the College’s Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation ceremonies, he inspired graduates to view it in a positive light.

“See adversity as a seed of opportunity,” he said.

Adjei, who was appointed poet laureate in April – a provincial position established in memory of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip – addressed more than 1,000 new NC graduates, along with their families and friends from around the world who gathered virtually to celebrate in two unique ceremonies livestreamed from the Welland Campus on October 29.

The special guest speaker, who was recognized with an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies during the ceremonies, told graduates that those facing adversity are like seeds buried and rooted into the darkness, which eventually find their light, and bloom.

“Sometimes we are buried into the darkness. Sometimes we are going to question, ‘why is this happening to me.’ Sometimes we are going to feel like victims but, I can reassure you, that you are being given an opportunity to grow,” he said. “You are transforming. You are evolving and blooming to become your best self.”

Adjei explained how adversity has played a key role in his own life, leading him not only to write as a form of self-expression, but to form RISE Edutainment (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) to help GTA youth express themselves creatively through performance arts. 

“If it wasn’t for the adversities that I went through, I would not be who I am today,” he said. “Adversity is what allowed me to look deeper within myself to question what I had to offer into this world.”

Adjei encouraged graduates to think about the legacy they hope to leave behind and what they can do to make the world better.

“Your legacy starts today,” he said.

Graduates were also treated to his gift of the spoken word, when he recited his poem, “The Dash,” which references the mark between dates on a tombstone and, figuratively, the course of a lifetime.

“It’s not about the day we’re born, nor is it about the day we leave, it’s really about everything we do with the dash in between,” he said.

President Sean Kennedy, who addressed the graduates live from the Welland Campus during the ceremonies, also shared advice with the Class of 2021. He spoke about the power of education and encouraged them to embrace lifelong learning as a key to realizing their dreams.

“As we learn, our worlds get bigger. Open your minds – and your hearts – to new ideas, new cultures, new ways of being and knowing,” said Kennedy. “And when you are moved, impacted and affected by what you learn, embrace that opportunity to grow and change. This is lifelong learning at its core.”

While the morning ceremony celebrated 511 new graduates from the Canadian Food and Wine Institute; and schools of Business and Management; Environment and Horticulture; Hospitality and Tourism; and Trades; the afternoon ceremony honoured 513 new graduates from the schools of Allied Health; Community Services; Justice and Fitness; Nursing and Personal Support Worker; and Academic, Liberal and Access Studies.

Zoom screenshot Practical Nursing: A screenshot from the afternoon ceremony livestream features a group of Practical Nursing graduates cheering and waving from their Zoom program party.

More than 270 new NC graduates were from the School of Nursing and Personal Support Worker alone – at a time of escalating need for health-care workers in Ontario.

Among them is St. Catharines resident Allison Cronkwright, who graduated from Practical Nursing, 11 years after graduating from the Personal Support Worker program. After developing a rare immune disorder and unable to continue her work as a PSW, she became determined to pursue her dream career. She went from wheelchair, to walker, to Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) during the past six years. On her convocation day, she considered herself the “luckiest woman on Earth” living out her dream as she begins her new full-time job as an RPN on a surgical unit at Niagara Health, where she completed her consolidation placement.

“Nursing was something I was born to do. From my very first memories as a child, I wanted to give back. I wanted to work in service of others,” she said. “COVID has put so much negative into the world. My nursing career is not one of them. I will adapt to whatever comes in front of me. I would move mountains to get where I am today.”

The Fall graduates join 3,872 from NC’s Class of 2021 who graduated during its Spring Virtual Convocation ceremonies between June 21-25 when the College celebrated the milestone of surpassing 100,000 individual graduates.

NC’s standout interactive virtual convocation ceremonies, which debuted in June 2020, feature many treasured traditions of its on-campus ceremonies, while leveraging modern technology and NC’s broadcasting expertise to create a live, interactive experience for graduates.

The formal ceremonies took place at the Welland Campus, and were livestreamed to a virtual audience, powered by a team of staff, faculty and students working behind the scenes from NC’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program. Between the two ceremonies, the livestreams garnered 3,259 live views from 34 countries.

Through program Zoom parties held alongside the ceremonies, graduates could be seen smiling and waving on screen with their classmates, as select clips were featured during the livestreams.

Those who missed their live ceremony broadcast, may view it at their convenience via the College’s website. For information about convocation or to access the ceremonies, visit niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Ontario’s First Poet Laureate To Address Niagara College’s Fall Graduates

Ontario’s first Poet Laureate Randell Adjei / Photo courtesy of Lady Mensah Studios

Niagara College is planning an epic virtual send-off for almost 1,000 new graduates this fall with a special guest who is well versed in the spoken and written word.

Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first poet laureate, will deliver the convocation address at NC’s Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation ceremonies on October 29. The Scarborough native was appointed poet laureate in April – a position established in memory of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip. As poet laureate for a two-year term, Adjei is dedicated to writing and championing poetry, art and literacy, celebrating Ontario and its people, and raising the profile of poets in the province.

“The Niagara College community looks forward to welcoming Randell as our guest speaker and honorary diploma recipient for Fall Convocation. We are honoured that he will share his extraordinary talents with our Fall 2021 graduates,” said NC president Sean Kennedy. “Randell’s mantra of resilience is sure to both inspire and resonate with our 2021 graduates, who have achieved their academic goals during an unprecedented time in history and are now poised to embark on the next exciting chapter of their lives.”

Adjei is a celebrated spoken word artist who has performed around the world. He has won multiple awards for his dedication to helping youth express themselves creatively through performance arts as the founder of RISE (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) Edutainment.

NC will confer an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies upon Adjei in recognition of his contributions to the literary arts, which serve to unite and bring attention to social injustice.

“I am ecstatic to be addressing the Class of 2021 graduates at Niagara College because it is a pivotal time in their lives,” said Adjei. “Niagara has often been a place of getaway and rejuvenation for me. Also given Niagara’s approach to learning and education, I am really looking forward to being involved.”

About Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation

Two unique convocation ceremonies will be livestreamed from the Welland Campus on October 29: the 10 a.m. ceremony will celebrate new graduates from NC’s schools of Business and Management, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, Hospitality and Tourism, and Trades. The 2 p.m. ceremony will be dedicated to the schools of Academic, Liberal and Access Studies; Applied Health; Community Services; Justice and Fitness; and Nursing and Personal Support Worker Studies.

The fall graduates join 3,872 from NC’s Class of 2021 who graduated during its Spring Virtual Convocation ceremonies June 21-25 when the College celebrated the milestone of surpassing 100,000 individual graduates.

Virtual convocation enables graduating students to celebrate their academic achievement in a safe and meaningful way during the COVID-19 pandemic before moving on to the next chapter of their lives. The upcoming ceremonies follow the resounding successes of the College’s previous virtual convocation ceremonies that drew tens of thousands of viewers from Niagara, Canada and around the world since they debuted in Spring 2020.

The College’s standout, interactive virtual convocation ceremonies feature many treasured traditions of its on-campus ceremonies, while leveraging modern technology and NC’s broadcasting expertise to create a live, interactive experience for graduates. The formal ceremonies conducted by Kennedy and vice president Academic Fiona Allan will take place at the Welland Campus and will be livestreamed to a virtual audience thanks to a team of faculty and students working behind the scenes from NC’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program.

Graduates and their families may visit the convocation website to view their ceremony as it happens, live in real time, from anywhere in the world. The name of each graduate will be called out, one by one, and appear on screen.

Videos will be incorporated into the live broadcasts, featuring well-wishes from the College community and beyond. Graduates will be invited to connect with their classmates and faculty through program Zoom parties to be held during their ceremony. Select clips from program Zoom parties – showing graduates smiling and waving – will be featured during the ceremony livestreams.

Virtual convocation also includes an immersive social media experience. Photos, videos and text messages with the NC convocation hashtag #NCGrad2021 will also be incorporated into the ceremonies.

For the convenience of those unavailable to attend the virtual ceremonies in real time, ceremony broadcasts will be available for later viewing via the Convocation website.

For information about convocation or to access the virtual ceremonies, visit niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.

(Source: Niagara College news release)