TWU Senior Vice President of Enrolment, Personal and Professional Development Brian Kerr, opened the Langley university’s virtual grad event on Saturday, May 1, with an “unboxing” of the celebration box that every graduate received by mail. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

TWU Senior Vice President of Enrolment, Personal and Professional Development Brian Kerr, opened the Langley university’s virtual grad event on Saturday, May 1, with an “unboxing” of the celebration box that every graduate received by mail. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Class of 2021 graduates, virtually, at Langley’s Trinity Western University

Pandemic required a different approach for the 774 students

Trinity Western University celebrated the class of 2021 through a virtual ceremony on Saturday, May 1.

In total, 774 graduates reached the milestone, with 597 achieving undergraduate degrees and 177 achieving Master’s degrees.

TWU Senior Vice President of Enrolment, Personal and Professional Development Brian Kerr, opened the online event with an “unboxing” of the celebration box mailed to every graduate.

It included a grad cap, a blue or gold cord for honours or honours with distinction designations, a book about life after university, “Five for Your First Five” by Allison McWilliams, a banner, a keychain and plenty of confetti.

Digital items include TWU Instagram filters with grad caps and confetti, which graduates can use in photos and tag on social media using the hashtag #TWUGrad21.

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The grads accomplishment was not easily achieved, said TWU president Mark Husbands.

“You’ve accomplished something that will remain with you forever,” Husbands commented.

This year’s commencement speaker, English professor Monika Hilder, said graduates “have been given a gift of disruption.”

Quoting author C.S. Lewis she said in her address, “‘Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice.’ Life has never been normal.”

“You were born for such a time as this,” she said. “‘Courage, dear heart,’ the best is yet to come.”

Emmett Balzer, School of Education graduate, class valedictorian for undergraduate majors said online learning has been a struggle.

“It is hard to feel seen; it is hard to feel known.”

He concluded his speech with a challenge to his peers: “How can you intentionally make others feel seen and known?”

Amanda Birkenstock, class valedictorian for graduate programs said students persevered through the pandemic, “and you are still in one piece, stronger than ever, standing at the finish line.”

Two citizenship awards, voted in by staff, faculty and other students, were awarded to Monica Rawlek, and Samuel Corbett, students who demonstrated exemplary leadership.

TWU Spartan athletes recognized for excellence in sports and community service included Jarrett Fontaine, Hilary Howe and Jennifer Kits.

READ ALSO: KPU, TWU prepare to head back to campus in September

Professors Louis Bielmann from the School of Business won the Davis Distinguished Teaching Award, while Anne Redmond from the School of Nursing received the Provost Innovative Teaching Award.

In September 2020, TWU welcomed 4,774 students into its learning community a 6.7 per cent increase in enrolment from the previous year, and the highest fall enrolment in TWU’s 58-year history.

In March 2021, Trinity Western announced its plan for a safe return to face-to-face learning this September, while offering “an engaging student life experience, with the added flexibility of online and remote options, as best fits each student’s needs.”


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