Sixteen beaming students from the Inuvik campus of Aurora College donned their caps and gowns on Friday.
It’s a far cry from the 42 graduates last year, but that isn’t a surprise or reason to be concerned, Aurora Campus director Doug Robertson told The Journal.
“It speaks to the way our programs cycle. We only have two programs finishing this year. We have another program in its access year so it will be a couple years before those students graduate, and we have students finishing their second year of a three-year program.”
Three business administration students received their diplomas and 13 others were handed their office administration certificates.
Office administration graduate Lauren Ruben from Paulatuk made the valedictorian address.
The keynote speaker, as nominated by the graduating class, was Fort McPherson’s Robert Alexie Jr., Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) president.
Alexie has written numerous books, including The Pale Indian and Porcupines and China Dolls. He was also a Tetlit Gwich’in band manager, chief and the chief negotiator for the Gwich’in land claim.
Other special guests included Legislative Assembly Speaker Jackie Jacobson, Deputy Commissioner of the NWT Gerald Kisoun and Inuvik-Boot Lake MLA Alfred Moses.
An Environment and Natural Resources Technology Program (ENRTP) graduate from last year, David Sonneveld, was also awarded a Governor General’s medal at the ceremony.
“He had the highest average across all Aurora campuses ever,” Robertson said. “We were able to get him on the phone and give him the medal that way.”
The Aurora Cup award went to Patrick Wolki, an office administration graduate. Nominations for this award are made by instructors and go to a student who has worked through difficult times and has managed to succeed, demonstrating excellence in improving their own educational standards.
After the convocation ceremony, graduates and their family members always return to the Midnight Sun Recreation Complex for a 6:00 p.m. banquet where scholarships are presented and “students receive gifts typically from the Aboriginal organization that represents them,” Robertson said.
“This campus has tremendous community support from the Aboriginal organizations, IRC (Inuvialuit Regional Corp.), GTC…So grad is a really festive occasion,” he said.