‘We did it!’: 774 TWU graduates mark their milestone through a virtual ceremony

“You were born for such a time as this. ...'Courage, dear heart,’ the best is yet to come.”
—Graduation commencement speaker, Dr. Monika Hilder, Professor of English

Trinity Western University celebrated the class of 2021 through a virtual ceremony at 4 pm on Saturday, May 1. In total, 774 graduates have reached this milestone, with 597 achieving undergraduate degrees and 177 achieving Master’s degrees.

During the pre-show, Brian Kerr, Senior Vice President of Enrolment, Personal and Professional Development, jump-started the event with an “unboxing” of the Celebration Box that every graduate received by mail. Physical contents include a grad cap, a blue or gold cord for honours or honours with distinction designations, the book Five for Your First Five by Allison McWilliams, a banner, a keychain – plus plenty of confetti. Digital celebratory items include TWU Instagram filters with grad caps and confetti, which graduates can use in photos and tag on social media using the hashtag #TWUGrad21.

Equipped with persistence, grit, fortitude and faith

“We know that your accomplishment was not easily achieved,” said President Mark Husbands during the event. “You made it! You’ve accomplished something that will remain with you forever.”

He pointed out that learning amidst the pandemic has trained TWU graduates in valuable ways, including in persistence, grit, resilience, fortitude and faith.

This year’s commencement speaker, Monika Hilder, Professor of English, said that graduates “have been given a gift of disruption.”

Quoting author C.S. Lewis she said in her address, “‘Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice.’ Life has never been normal.”

“You were born for such a time as this,” she said. “‘Courage, dear heart,’ the best is yet to come.”

Emmett Balzer, School of Education graduate, is the class valedictorian for undergraduate majors. His message was marked by a spirit of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. He concluded his speech with a challenge to his peers: “How can you intentionally make others feel seen and known?”

Amanda Birkenstock, MBA, is the class valedictorian for graduate programs. She recognized the challenges that some of her peers have had to overcome – studying and learning while facing responsibilities of work and family.

“You’ve persevered through this challenging season of completing a degree...in a pandemic, and you are still in one piece, stronger than ever, standing at the finish line,” she said to graduates.

“You’ve taken an important step that will allow you to be a kinder, wiser, and more balanced person, friend and leader. Well done!” she enthused.

Recognizing excellence in academics, leadership and teaching

Two citizenship awards, voted in by staff, faculty and other students, were awarded to students who demonstrated exemplary leadership. This year’s citizenship award winners are Monica Rawlek, who is known for her contagious joy and her work in helping underserved students, and Samuel Corbett, a campus residence and community leader. TWU Spartan athletes recognized for excellence in sports and community service included Jarrett Fontaine, Hilary Howe and Jennifer Kits.

During the ceremony, two professors were recognized for excellence in teaching. This year, Louis Bielmann from the School of Business won the Davis Distinguished Teaching Award, while Anne Redmond from the School of Nursing received the Provost Innovative Teaching Award.

At the end of the ceremony, President Husbands invited all graduates to move their cap tassels according to academic tradition. Undergraduate degree recipients move their tassels from right to left, signalling a passage from one level of learning to another. Master’s degree recipients, who already have their tassels on the left, lift their tassels up and back down again.  

In September 2020, TWU welcomed 4,774 students into its learning community. This represented a 6.7% increase in enrolment from fall 2019, and the highest fall enrolment in Trinity Western’s 58-year history.

In March 2021, Trinity Western announced its plan for a safe return to face-to-face learning this September, while offering “an engaging student life experience, with the added flexibility of online and remote options, as best fits each student’s needs.”

See this story in Aldergrove Star.

Watch the Spring 2021 Virtual Graduation Ceremony and messages from the Deans:​
TWU Spring 2021 Graduation Ceremony

About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

For media inquiries, please contact: media@twu.ca


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Learn more: https://t.co/vE9FofLHYi


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