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Sarah Janes

7 unmissable moments from convocationJune 12, 2019

On June 14, the Class of 2019 celebrated convocation along with honorary doctoral recipients Donna Strickland and Michel Rappaz.

Have you ever met someone who made it through their Engineering degree alone?

Neither have we.

Whether it was through the support of classmates pulling all nighters together in Thode library, encouragement from parents, words of wisdom from professors or the help of staff, the Class of 2019 graduated not just with each other, but because of each other.

Here are seven of our favourite moments that spurred warm fuzzies and relentless applause from both the morning and afternoon convocation on June 14.

1. We The North becomes We The Graduates

Graduate with We The North banner.

Raptors fever has spiked across the country, which could be felt from the convocation stage as students officially became McMaster Engineering alumni, donning Raptors jerseys, hats and flags. The night before, the Toronto Raptors claimed the first-ever NBA Finals championship by a Canadian team.

2. Nobel Prize winner and honorary doctoral recipient Donna Strickland's speech

Donna Strickland.

McMaster Engineering alumna Donna Strickland, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics last year, received her honorary doctoral degree from her alma mater. During her speech, Strickland revealed that it was her roommate from the Moulton Hall residence at McMaster, who is still one of her best friends, who helped pick out the red dress she wore to accept the Nobel Prize.

"One of the great things about going away to university is that you get pulled out of your comfort zone and find out that there is so much more to the world then what you have yet experienced. Of course, university is all about learning, but the friends you make while you are busy studying are every bit as important... I have been so lucky in life. I left McMaster with a great education and fabulous friends. I hope the same is true for all of you."

Read Strickland's full speech here.

3. Avid hiker, dreamer and honorary doctoral recipient Michel Rappaz's speech

Michel Rappaz.

He's a globally recognized leader in materials science, most likely to be bumped into on a major mountain in any corner of the world. Rappaz, who received his honorary doctoral degree from McMaster Engineering during the morning ceremony, spoke about his love of Leonardo da Vinci, the challenges facing today's graduates and the innate power of curiosity.

"I hope that, like Leonardo, you will continue to show curiosity for your domain, but more generally for life and phenomena, for the cosmos and the atomistic world, for the human societies and the environment. And I also wish that you will keep the desire to always go beyond what you already know, what your professors have taught you or what the society or your employer tells you to do."

Read Rappaz's full speech here.

5. Matthew Ferguson, a.k.a Super Plumber's, valedictorian speech

Matthew Ferguson.

Ferguson, a Chemical Engineering and Society graduate, addressed his classmates during the morning convocation.

"We’ve experienced heartbreak, we’ve experienced fear of disappointment and so much more. But the beautiful thing about all this, is despite all our different pasts, and our different pathways, we’ve all managed to converge to this room, because of our resilience and strength... To those that felt like they didn’t have as strong of a support system but still managed to find themselves here; you are the ones that truly show us that our strongest support system lies within ourselves."

Read Ferguson's full speech here.

6. Hannah McPhee's valedictorian speech

Hannah McPhee.

McPhee, an Engineering Physics graduate, addressed her classmates during the afternoon convocation. 

"We don’t compete with one another, but raise one another up - is what has made this place special for me for the last five years... We are a new generation of engineers and computer scientists. We have a responsibility of creating more communities and workplaces that are inclusive and positive for everyone in them."

Read McPhee's full speech here.

7. Being the first major Canadian institution to offer digital degrees

Digital credentials.

More than 940 undergraduate engineering, Bachelor of Technology and computer science students have received the institution’s first-ever digital diplomas following the convocation ceremonies.