Alumni recall the joy, excitement — and relief — of earning their U of T degree
The Convocation Dash
I am a four-time graduate of the University of Toronto. Each convocation has its special moments, but my favourite occurred during my first. My uncle, Harry Fisher (BEd 1955, MEd 1958, PhD 1975), was Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Education at the time. A meeting prevented him from attending my convocation, but he posted an administrative assistant at a window with a view of King’s College Circle, with the order to tell him the moment that the line of graduates began to walk across the field to Convocation Hall. When he got word that we were on the move, he sprinted the several hundred metres from Bay and Wellesley, arriving breathless to congratulate me just before I entered the hall and then turned around and sprinted back. It was the best graduation present of any!
The Rev. Dr. C. Mark Steinacher
BA 1978, MDiv 1983, ThM 1992, ThD 1999
An Immigrant Father’s Dream
My father came to Canada from China in 1956. When I was a young boy, he talked to me often about the importance of getting an education and going to university. “You can become anything you want in this country,” he said. He saw Canada as a land of opportunity ¬– something he’d never had growing up in China. At my convocation in 1986, I could see the happiness in my father’s eyes. He was beaming from ear to ear. As I stood on the podium, I glanced over at him sitting beside my mother in his plaid suit and mismatched tie. Nothing could contain his pride. As I was about to receive my diploma, I suddenly realized that this day was as much his moment as it was mine.
BA 1986 St. Mike’s
A Name to Stand By
I graduated from Scarborough College with a BA in 1970. While there, I got to know the principal, Wynne Plumtree, an outgoing man with a mischievous sense of humour. When he read out my name in Convocation Hall, he did so with special emphasis: “Dale Michael LeMercier DuQuesnay!” A gentleman sitting in the audience behind my mother snorted, “Good God! Can you imagine giving your son a name like that!” Without missing a beat, my mother, who has always been a no-nonsense person – at 96, she now lives with us – promptly turned to the man and declared, “That is my son!” The man didn’t utter another word for the rest of the ceremony.
Dale M.L. DuQuesnay, CFP
BA UTSC 1970
On June 10, 2003, I graduated from U of T, Scarborough. As I stood at University College waiting with hundreds of others, I suddenly felt overcome with emotion. My very long and personal journey to convocation had started 20 years earlier on the St. George campus.
I first enrolled at Uof T through the Transitional Year Programme in 1983. At the time I was a 30-year-old mother of two girls and married to “the boy next door.” I was both excited and terrified, and felt a little like Rita in the movie Educating Rita – traveling daily to classes in high heels. I decided that it would be better for my family if I attended classes closer to home, so I transferred to Scarborough for my second year. After picking up the girls from school, I’d bring them back to the studio where I rehearsed. Much to my horror, they would crawl around on the catwalks high above me. They were 10 and 12 and loved being at “Mom’s school.”
My life changed drastically that year. On June 10, 1986, my husband of 13 years was killed in a horrific accident. I picked up my life the best I could under the circumstances and returned to U of T, but failed to get all the credits I needed. Twenty years later, on the eve of my 50th birthday, I e-mailed an old professor, who encouraged me to sign up for a new class he was teaching about writing for the theatre. This time I made it all the way through.
As I stepped inside Convocation Hall, I searched the crowd for my girls, now in their thirties. They were in the highest balcony, waving frantically at me – just as they had done from the catwalk in my drama class so long ago. I will never forget the look on the girls faces as they called out “Hi Mom.” I finally felt complete.
Laura Lyford Rickards
BA 2003 UTSC
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