Posted on May 26, 2008 by Dylan Anderson

Convocation sees many firsts

Dean Roger Epp congratulates a student

This Sunday’s Convocation at Augustana was one of many ‘firsts.’ It marked the first day as a graduate for the 107 students attending who received degrees that day. It was the first time an eagle feather was presented to graduating Aboriginal students. And, it was the first time an honourary degree was bestowed from Augustana Campus.

Described as “ahead of her time,” by Dean, Dr. Roger Epp, Bertha (Berdie) Helen Fowler has helped forge new territory for businesswomen in Alberta as the editor of The Camrose Booster, a local newspaper founded with her husband in 1952. She was also the first woman in Alberta appointed to the Board of the Alberta Opportunity Company and the Alberta Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Board.
Berdie Fowler
Honourary Degree recipient, Bertha (Berdie) Fowler
Accepting an Honourary Degree of Doctor of Laws to resounding applause, the ever dignified Fowler took to the podium.
“It’s no secret that I have had a lifelong affection for this campus,” said Fowler. “This degree is special for me because it comes from an institution that benefited three generations of my family.”
Giving graduands a glimpse into her life’s journey, Fowler told how Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa, and Dr. Albert Schweitzer served as her heroes and inspiration. Like her heroes, Fowler is also an inspiration to those that follow her as an individual who truly embodies community service and a strong commitment to improving the world around her.
“I feel privileged to feel this joy with you,” said Fowler as she addressed the graduands. “Now, how are you going to use your education to make a better world? Many of you won’t have that answer but that’s alright because there are many paths. Your future will be what you make it and never doubt that you can shape it.” See video.

Elder John Crier
Elder John Crier presents Sarah Stephen with an eagle feather
The Twenty-Fourth Convocation was also the first time the University honoured graduating Aboriginal students by presenting those attending convocation with an eagle feather. Receiving an eagle feather is considered by many to be the highest honour that can be awarded within Aboriginal culture. It is a mark of distinction and could indicate that a rite of passage has been earned.
Elder John Crier was on hand to present Michelle Durocher and Sarah-Ann Stephen with the eagle feather in recognition of their accomplishments, and to celebrate the end of their educational journey at Augustana, and give strength and blessing to the journeys ahead.  See videos.
Most importantly, though, this convocation was the first day of the next chapter in their lives for the 132 graduating students this year. 

Among that group were the Augustana Department Medal winners, a sterling medal to recognize superior achievement: Jessica Foshaug, Fine Arts; Nathan Cole, Humanities; Maria Millang, Social Sciences; and Andrea Martinson, Science.
Andrea Martison
Andrea Martinson, Augustana Medallist and recipient of the Science Departmental Medal.
Andrea Martinson was also the recipient of the Augustana Medal, a sterling medal awarded for academic excellence to the undergraduate who achieves the highest Graduation Grade Point Average.  See video.
Including the medal winners, 35 students graduated with distinction.
“If we’ve done our job right, you won’t be the same person when you leave here,” said President Indira Samarasekara. “You have an incredible responsibility ahead of you. Search for the things that matter.”

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