Graduates encouraged to find their passion, take risks

Pictured: St. Catharines Standard publisher Judy Bullis receives an honorary diploma  from NC president Dan Patterson at convocation on the morning of June 20 when she was a guest speaker.

Speakers encouraged NC grads to find their passion and take risks on their road to success, during Spring Convocation Ceremonies Wednesday at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.

The graduates heard from Judy Bullis, Niagara group publisher for Sun Media, and Ron Shaw, a Niagara College graduate and former faculty member who runs his own residential design firm in Turks and Caicos Islands. Bullis received an Honorary Diploma in Media and Information Studies, and Shaw was the recipient of the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

At the morning ceremony, Bullis shared personal stories to emphasize the importance of perseverance, hope and courage with graduating students from the Schools of Media Studies and Technology Studies.

“You are my generation’s brave new frontier,” she told the graduates, many of whom will pursue careers in the media.

While it’s an industry that continues to see rapid change, Bullis said the world of media offers a satisfying career that’s unlike any other.

“For me there is nothing better than this extraordinary field that has filled my life and will now fill yours,” she said. “There’s nothing like the responsibility that comes with provoking thought, seeking change, offering possibilities, the rush of the lead, the story, the feedback.”

For Shaw it was a return to Niagara College. A 1980 graduate of the Construction Engineering Technology program, Shaw returned to teach in the program in the 1990s, before launching his own award-winning architectural design firm in Turks and Caicos.

Shaw began his afternoon address by pointing out that it was the second time he had spoken at a Niagara College convocation – as valedictorian in 1980, he had also addressed his own class.

“Thirty-two years ago I stood at this podium and told the convocation what I thought I knew,” he said. “I can share with you that I truly did not. I was a proud Niagara College graduate that day and I’m every bit as proud today.”

Shaw told the graduates from the Schools of Environmental and Horticultural Studies and Technology Studies that he attributed much of his success to his decision to pursue training, accreditations and credentials early in his career. He told the graduates that he started out as a journeyman carpenter.

“In your career, do not underestimate the benefit of starting out at the bottom and working your way up,” he said. “The practical experience you get may be the most valuable of your career.”

Citing his own decision to leave teaching to pursue the opportunity to design high-end tropical homes, he said a large part of success is finding something that you love to do, and not being afraid of failure along the way.

“It’s not about simply running faster than everyone else, it is about finding your passion, taking risks, running in new directions and dealing with failure,” he said. “I wish I’d done it years earlier.”

More than 3,000 students will graduate during Niagara College’s Spring Convocation Ceremonies this week. The ceremonies run from June 19 to 22 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day. All ceremonies take place at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.


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