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Cheers to 2,526 Loyalist College graduates

Amid cheers, tears of joy, and an atmosphere of overwhelming pride, 2,526 Loyalist College students graduated during a series of ceremonies from June 6 – 9.

The college’s Belleville campus was abuzz as faculty, staff, family and friends gathered in person to congratulate graduates as they crossed the stage and entered a new phase in their personal and professional journeys. Others tuned in virtually from around the globe, cheering on the Class of 2023 via live stream.

The ceremonies opened with inspiring words from Loyalist College President and CEO Mark Kirkpatrick and Chair of the Loyalist College Board of Governors Pam Jolliffe. Speeches from the 2023 Valedictorians and honorary diploma recipients celebrated students’ academic achievements and the spirit of Loyalist’s close-knit community.

“To the Class of 2023 – congratulations on this incredible milestone,” said Kirkpatrick. “Throughout our region and across the country, Loyalist College grads are essential members of the workforce, delivering services in health care and justice, skilled trades, business, creative arts, applied sciences and more. Our grads are entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders dedicated to creating economic growth and positive social change. As our newest cohort of graduates, you are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills you need to achieve career success, and a deep sense of social responsibility that will help you make a meaningful impact in your communities. Know that you will always have a home here at Loyalist College, and we can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.”

Each ceremony began with the delivery of the Ohèn:ton Karihwatéhkwen, which translates to “The Words Before All Else,” delivered by Tewathahá:kwa Jennifer Maracle, Director of Indigenous Services. The college honoured self-identifying Indigenous students with a beaded medallion, created by Erin Ferrante of Kenhte:ke Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, to recognize academic accomplishments while honouring their cultural identity.

Rachel Nelson, a graduate of the Paralegal program, received the Governor General’s Academic Medal as the student who achieved the highest overall average (97.7 per cent).

“We come from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences, but we are united by a common goal – to serve and make a positive impact in our respective fields,” said Nelson, also a 2023 valedictorian. “As we embark on this next chapter of our lives, let us carry with us the lessons we learned and the memories we created, and keep close to the friends we made along the way. May we continue to support one another, embrace diversity, stand up for justice and extend a helping hand to those in need.”

The Hugh P. O’Neil Outstanding Alumni Award was presented to Janak Alford, Chief Technology Officer and Enterprise Architect at the Government of Canada. A 2002 graduate of the college’s Architectural Technician diploma program, Alford was honoured for achievements as an entrepreneur, designer, and leader in enterprise technology.
Honorary Diploma Recipients included Monique Belair, Fire Chief, Kingston Fire & Rescue Services;
Hanna Bunton, Professional Canadian Hockey Player; Josiah Fallaise, Founder and Owner of FDF Raceshop; Pam Jolliffe, Outgoing Chair, Loyalist College Board of Governors; Shelby Lisk, Photographer, Filmmaker, and Journalist; Lisa Kirbie, Founder and CEO, Blackbird Strategies; Henry Saulnier, Warden, Millhaven Institution and Mike Shoreman, Athlete, Author, Speaker, and Mental Health Advocate.

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