News Archives: GPRC Honours Grads at Grande Prairie Convocation Ceremony
Saturday, May 4th, 2019
GPRC Valedictorian Neil Reed (left) with Salutatorian Ryan Beeston (right) at Grande Prairie's Convocation ceremony on May 4.
GRANDE PRAIRIE – Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) has welcomed over 300 new graduates to its alumni family. Grande Prairie campus held two convocation ceremonies in the Douglas J. Cardinal Performing Arts Centre today celebrating graduates of degree programs and diploma and certificate graduates. GPRC President and CEO Don Gnatiuk and Vice-President Academics and Research Tim Heath presided over both ceremonies.
Convocation ceremonies at GPRC annually include speeches from the valedictorian and salutatorian, two students who have achieved academic excellence in their programs of study and contributed to the College community. This year, the Paul J. Evaskevich Valedictorian Award recognized Neil Reed, a graduate of the one-year office administration certificate program.
Reed’s remarks to his fellow graduates reflected on a formative experience that changed the way he thought about life: his father’s diagnosis with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer, shortly after Reed’s high school graduation. He recalled his father’s advice, “Don’t let them take your happy,” a message that has stayed with him ever since.
When his father went into remission, Reed made the decision to attend GPRC to study office administration. He says he owes a large part of his academic success to his instructors. “We were fortunate to have had such fantastic instructors to guide our path to success and be there for us when we were struggling,” he said. “No matter the difficulties we faced, we could always count on them to help us weather the storm.”
The Beth Sheehan Salutatorian Award recognized Ryan Beeston, a graduate of the business administration program (a SAIT collaborative degree option) with a major in accounting. “Five years ago, I was working in the oilfield,” he said in his address to the graduating class. “I wanted more out of life, but was scared to make the change.”
After Beeston had to change jobs twice in three years, he decided to return to college to change his career. He began to pursue a finance major, but changed his mind once he got further into the coursework. “I found out I was passionate about accounting,” Beeston said.
Beeston wrapped up his remarks by encouraging fellow graduates to remain open to new experiences. “When you leave here today, know that the path you have chosen may take unexpected turns. Embrace new opportunities, and challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone.
“I am not a different person than I was when I started this journey,” concluded Beeston, “I am a more complete one.”
“I am proud to share the stage with these outstanding graduates today,” said GPRC President and CEO Don Gnatiuk. “The class of 2019 has already accomplished so much. I know they will enrich their communities in the years to come with the skills and experiences they’ve received at GPRC.”
The 2019 convocation ceremony will be Gnatiuk’s last as President and CEO, as he has announced plans to retire before the conclusion of the next academic year.
Convocation 2019 is the concluding ceremony of the academic year at GPRC.