The annual event reflects on the university experience and recognizes student achievements
“As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading,” read Prof. Dave Thomas from a New York Times article in his address to Mount Allison’s 2018 graduating class.
Last Monday, the graduating class of 2018 met for the Last Lecture, a yearly event that celebrates nearing the end of classes and allows for reflection on the past year at Mount Allison. This year, Thomas was selected to be the speaker.
In his talk, Thomas encouraged students to look back, examine the present and think about the future. He reflected on the major changes on campus in the past four years, such as activism by Divest Mt. A and the creation of the Indigenous Student Support Group. Thomas also read from the New York Times article about the difficulty of making friends past your twenties, and encouraged students to cherish and cultivate their university connections. “These are really unique and special friendships,” said Thomas.
The event included the ceremony of passing down the cane, a decades-old tradition held over from when male senior students would distinguish themselves from younger classmates by walking around campus using walking sticks and canes on Sundays. The tradition symbolizes passing wisdom from one class to another.
Mt. A’s first female class president Barbie Smith (’75) was in attendance, along with Dr. Garland Brooks, a Mt. A alumnus (’69) and psychology professor emeritus at St. FX. The old cane was passed from Smith to David Mawhinney, the library archivist, so that the cane could be retired and put on display in the library. Brooks passed a new cane to graduating class president Bailey Fleming. This cane belonged to Brooks’s father, Rev. Garland Brooks, class of 1934.
Brooks shared some of his early memories of visiting the Mt. A campus as a child and some wisdom from his father. “Someone who is not progressive in old age has not learned the lessons of life,” said Brooks, quoting his father. Finally, Fleming passed the new cane to Mary McGaffey, the president of next year’s graduating class.
Fleming announced the graduating class gift: $1,500 for the Indigenous Student Support Group. “Many graduating students were moved by the work of our peers in organizing the first Powwow and the raising of the Mi’kmaq flag on campus,” said Fleming. “We all felt strongly that this group of individuals exemplify incredible leadership and have worked so hard to make our campus a better place. By giving the grad gift to the Indigenous Support Group we hope to support this continuous change towards the Indigenization of Mt. A.” The funds were raised in part by grad events held throughout the year.
A number of students were honoured with awards for academic achievement, leadership and contributions to the Mt. A and Sackville communities. Saurabh Kulkarni was happy to have his work with the Mt. A community recognized with the Barritt-Marshall Award, an award for a graduating international student. “Graduating in four years seems quick. I expected this and it was always the plan, but I am still surprised as to how fast the time has gone and I can’t believe that this chapter of my undergrad will finish in May,” said Kulkarni.
The event reminded grads to celebrate their achievements and think about how they and their community have changed and how to move forward when they leave Sackville.