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Convocation 2021 by the numbers

The image presents numbers related to convocation

Convocation is just around the corner for OCAD University graduands and while the June 11 ceremony will be virtual, there will be much cause for celebration. Here’s a look at 2021 Convocation by the numbers:

  • 2 ceremonies – one for the Faculty of Design and one for the Faculty of Art, Faculty of Arts and Science and Graduate Studies. Both ceremonies will be run concurrently at 9 a.m. and then repeated at 2 p.m.
  • 4 watch parties – that’s right! We’re hosting watch parties where students can gather in a virtual setting and celebrate together. Look for your invitation and how to RSVP.
  • 1,076 graduands from three Faculties and Graduate Studies.
  • 5 new honorands – we’re presenting honorary doctorate degrees to five exceptional people in recognition of their achievements.
  • 3 performances by O Cappella, Clerel and Lillian Allen.
  • 2 special guests: Elder Whabagoon and The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
  • 2 Governor General’s Academic Medal Awards – Convocation will include a short speech by the recipients of this year’s Governor General’s Academic Medals, given annually to an undergraduate student (silver) and graduate student (gold) who achieved the highest academic standing. This year, the silver medal goes to Fiona Georgia Barnes-Brisley, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Design in Graphic Design. The gold medal recipient is Josie Gray, who is graduating with a Master of Design in Inclusive Design.


3 things I loved about studying at OCAD U

One: The people, subjects and disciplines I was exposed to. I was able to open my eyes to sculpture, film, motion, and so many other unique disciplines that have shaped my experience and have allowed me to develop new skills I never thought I would have. Additionally, because of the scope of majors at OCAD U, I am thankful to have been introduced to students of different backgrounds and skill-sets who provided different perspectives.  

Two: The amazing professors. Their passion for art inspired me and so many have taught me lessons that have already helped me in my current workplace. Every instructor I had left a mark on me in some way, with each bringing their own unique experiences, professional and academic backgrounds. 

Three: Doing what I love. Moving from an academic high school to OCAD U, a place where I was able to pursue my passions, was a privilege, thrill, and an extremely gratifying experience. I couldn’t believe that homework could be exciting, and lectures could be eye-opening and inspirational. Also, being surrounded by other creatives gave me such a sense of belonging that I had never felt before.

2 lessons I learned

One: A lesson in subjectivity. Some people will love your work, others will hate it. I learned that separating yourself from your work is a valuable affair that can save you from self-criticism and sensitivity. On top of that, marks in a creative university are so subjective. What you can control, though, is your effort, process and time.

Two: There is so much in the world that can be observed, noticed and learned from. Taking time to look out for details, opportunities and nuances is an unrivalled way to foster ideas. 

1 piece of advice to future grads

Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. For me, being afraid of things I thought were out of my comfort zone or too challenging was a barrier to my growth. The most memorable and moving lessons I learned were those that pushed me outside of what I thought I could do. Trust yourself and your ability. 

Your next great goal

Designing for positive impact. While I don’t know exactly where life will take me, it is my one hope while I am able to create in my career.  Whether it’s making text a little bit easier to read, conveying a message in an emotionally moving manner, or helping people interact with signage, anything I can do to assist and benefit the end-user is what I aspire to do.


3 things I loved about studying at OCAD U

One: I have actually only been to the OCAD U campus once. Even before the pandemic, the Inclusive Design program was set up to accommodate remote students and people working. This allowed me to attend classes from Victoria, B.C., while working full time, for which I am grateful.

Two: I have to send huge love and appreciation to my 2019-21 Inclusive Design cohort. I had the opportunity to work with and learn from classmates who all brought unique perspectives and interesting projects to all of our classes, and being with the same people throughout the degree allowed us to more effectively get to know and support each other.

Three: My advisor, Dr. Jutta Treviranus, was incredibly supportive in allowing me to pursue a non-traditional major research project, a podcast, which allowed me to connect publishing, research, theory, and storytelling in really interesting ways.

2 lessons I learned

One: We have designed our post-secondary education system to function a certain way and to privilege certain types of people and certain ways of doing things. Even a program focused on inclusive design functions within that system, which can put up considerable barriers to student success and learning.

Two: "Inclusion" means different things to different people, and the word on its own is not very powerful when not backed up by a critical perspective and a commitment to inclusive practice. For myself, that means recognizing that the world we live in is deeply unjust and defined by systems of exclusion and domination. And as a designer, I understand inclusive practice as decentring myself as an expert, making space for people to share their lived experienced and expertise, prioritizing consent and accessibility, and recognizing that design is always political. 

1 piece of advice to future grads

Advocate for yourself and your learning, and be willing to explore new areas of research and practice. 

Your next great goal

To continue to learn, reflect on my learning, and put that learning into practice.