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Convocation celebrates excellence

Two women are photographed side by side.

Image: 2022 Governor General's Academic Medal Winners Christine Woolley (left) and Rachael Grad (right). 

OCAD University’s first in-person Convocation ceremonies since 2019 will be held on Friday, June 17 and will celebrate 750 students who will be receiving their diplomas at Roy Thomson Hall. 

The exciting event will include the presentation of Governor General’s Academic Medals to two exceptional students. The awards are given annually to the undergraduate and the graduate student who has achieved the highest academic standing across all programs in their graduating year. 

The silver medal will be presented to Rachael Grad, a Duke law school graduate and mother of three who left practising law to study painting full-time. Grad is graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting, with Distinction. 
Art director and graphic designer, Christine Woolley, studied design at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of British Columbia before becoming a graduate student at OCAD University. Woolley will receive the 2022 gold medal and has completed the Inclusive Design program with a Master of Design. 

Additionally, Convocation will celebrate excellence with the presentation of the OCAD U medal to one graduating student from each of the University's undergraduate and graduate programs. These medals recognize the creativity, innovation and technical mastery of students within their chosen discipline.

OCAD U will also award honorary doctorates to five outstanding and deserving individuals, Rosalie Favell, Michael Fukushima, Anne (Annie) Koyama, Judy Matthews and Norman Triplett White. Remarks will be presented by the distinguished recipients at the morning and afternoon ceremonies.
The Friday festivities will feature two installation ceremonies, one for Ana Serrano, and one for incoming Chancellor Jaime Watt. Serrano is the University’s first racialized President and Vice-Chancellor and joined the University on July 1, 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

Meet our Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal Recipient 
Christine Woolley, Inclusive Design, MDes 

3 things I loved about studying at OCAD U 

1.   First and foremost, I loved my cohort in the Inclusive Design program. I couldn’t have imagined a more supportive, collaborative and inspiring group of people to connect with along this journey. Together we navigated through a life-changing graduate program during unprecedented times, in a completely virtual environment. We formed lasting bonds, overcame challenges and learned so much from one another. It is an experience that will last a lifetime. 

2.   I am grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with the Art Gallery of Ontario to explore exhibition techniques that move beyond the visual sense, in order to create more inclusive gallery experiences. My class was invited to translate artwork in the gallery’s collection into multisensory objects through a co-creative process. The final works that resulted from this research are displayed as part of the AGO’s programming. 

3.   Especially important for me has been the opportunity to be at the forefront of inclusive design praxis and emerging research. Learning from professors, alumni and industry professionals who are thought leaders in the field and having access to the world-renowned Inclusive Design Research Centre has been an experience that is unparalleled in any other graduate design program. 
2 lessons learned  

1.   There’s no finish line in equity and inclusion work. There will always be room for more learning and unlearning. There will always be room to think about things differently and gain new perspectives and there will always be more work to be done. Our collective knowledge and understanding will grow and expand. We are all in a position to make tomorrow a little better than yesterday. 

2.   Ask questions but listen more. Build authentic relationships with the communities you are designing with, share space and create conditions where people have agency in the design process.  

1 piece of advice to future grads 

Share your knowledge, your learnings and your experiences. Don’t hold it all to yourself. Collective learning and understanding will encourage, strengthen and sustain your practice. Collaborate, ask questions and listen to other voices. Ask yourself who else you should be talking to. 

Your next great goal 

Next, I’d like to work with government and design organizations in Canada to further my research on equitable access to public information and support the graphic design industry in integrating accessible and inclusive design into the graphic design ethos. 


Meet our Governor General’s Academic Silver Medal Recipient 
Rachael Grad, Drawing and Painting, with Distinction, BFA 

3 things I loved about studying at OCAD U  

1. Learning innovative art techniques. In previous art studies at the New York Studio School and New York University (NYU) I focused on traditional drawing, painting, sculpture and art history. At the New York Studio School, I spent countless days working from life on observational drawings and paintings. At OCAD U, I was able to take experimental art courses where I learned digital art and new media techniques that pushed my painting and drawing practice in new directions.   

2.    Getting to know talented classmates with diverse backgrounds, ages and genders. Many of my classmates are international students or first-generation Canadians like me. Interacting with students from different cultures encourages respect and insight into widely varying opinions and perspectives. 

3.    Professors who generously shared their knowledge and advice both during class time and outside of class hours. They knew exactly when to introduce new concepts, theories and artists to broaden student understanding, and when to reign in too many ideas and help narrow our focus.   

2 lessons I learned    

1. Making art and taking classes during a pandemic is possible. Classes were 100 per cent online for a time then moved to a hybrid format, in which students could learn both virtually and in person. I found the hybrid format worked well because it was more flexible and accessible. I laughed hard the first time I saw a professor Zooming in on a laptop, wheeled around during in-person studio critique. That quickly became normal!   
2. Though my art and research on motherhood may not be trendy now, I feel compelled to persist in making artwork that is true to my middle-aged mom-ness.   

1 piece of advice to future grads  

Keep up your creative practice in your preferred form, whether it’s traditional painting and drawing, experimental art techniques, creative writing, academic research, or a new medium that you have yet to invent. There are many demands on artists’ time and energy, and we can be easily distracted. I hope you find the find the space, desire and opportunity to create.   

Your next great goal  
I’m starting graduate studies in Visual Arts at York University this fall. My goal is to continue my academic research and studio exploration of art and motherhood.