For Ajeet Paul, completing his diploma in environmental studies at Okanagan College proved to be a journey of learning and personal growth, capped off with a whirlwind final semester as he and his classmates overcame the unexpected challenge of graduating in a pandemic.
Paul is one of more than 2,000 students who will graduate from Okanagan College this year, and although his credential is on its way to him by mail, he’ll need to wait a little while longer to be able to don his cap and gown.
Earlier this spring, after surveying graduating students on their preferences for virtual or in-person ceremonies, the college made the decision to postpone its June convocation ceremonies until the time comes when the events can be held face to face.
The decision wasn’t an easy one, explained Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton.
“It goes without saying that convocation is one of the most special times of year for the Okanagan College community,” said Hamilton. “And so, while we’re saddened to not be hosting ceremonies right now, we congratulate all our graduating students. We are thinking of you, and we look forward to a day in the future when we can all get together, in-person, to celebrate your accomplishments.”
To honour the graduates of 2020, the college recently produced a convocation film, assembling messages of support and congratulations from all corners of the college’s community.
“Over the past few months, it’s been very heartening to see the way in which our students and employees have supported and encouraged one another. This video is one of many examples of that positivity and community spirit that makes Okanagan College such a special place,” said Hamilton.
For Paul, who made the transition to online learning back in March, the pandemic reminded him of his first semester, when like many, he had to adjust to a new way of life as a first-year student.
Fortunately for Paul, he quickly found his stride the environmental studies diploma. He eventually gravitated to the natural resource management stream.
“The program opened the door to so many possibilities,” he said. “The environment is so dynamic and so many people have different opinions on it. I had always been interested in the environment and not just reading about the science part of it but how people are affected by it, the impact they have, and vice versa.”
Okanagan College normally hosts eight ceremonies throughout the year, beginning with Winter Convocation in January, followed by Spring and Summer Convocation in June.
Watch Okanagan College’s congratulatory video below: