Rewarding Canadian achievers
By Neil Malhotra
Thursday and Friday, Western held its 271st convocation ceremonies, honouring the university's newest alumni. In addition, honorary degrees were presented at the three ceremonies.
On Thursday afternoon, Bjarni Tryggvason was presented with a Doctor of Science for his achievements as a scientist, engineer and astronaut. Tryggvason, who served as a graduate engineer at Western from 1974-82, became Canada's sixth astronaut in space on August 1997.
Tryggvason issued a challenge to the graduating class to help stop the "brain drain" from Canada by promoting visionary thinking.
He also pleaded for an increase in funding and support for research and development. "If we are to move into the next century at this level [of quality of life], we must support these programs.
On Friday, Carol Shields, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning The Stone Diaries, was honoured for her achievements as a distinguished Canadian author. She elected to take a slightly less political tone in her address to the faculty of arts and affiliate colleges graduates.
Shields reminisced with the class that she was encouraged to try everything, but advised not to over-extend one's self. "Just because it was possible, it didn't have to be done."
She encouraged the class to follow their passions and to remain focussed. "I gave up on being well-rounded, it took up too much time," she said.
The final honorary degree was presented to Claude Penza, a Western alumnist and an active member of the Western community, for his service to the university and the London community.
He addressed the convocation on the opportunities available for the new class as they enter the new millennium. "We seem to have reduced the prospect of nuclear conflagration, we are coming to the realization we have to stop fouling our biosphere and human rights has risen to a place higher on the international agenda."