They may not be able to celebrate in person, but Niagara College is shining the spotlight on its fall 2020 graduates with a virtual event to remember, along with an alumnus guest speaker ready to take the stage.
On Friday, October 30, NC’s Virtual Fall Convocation ceremonies will celebrate more than 1,000 new graduates of NC’s Class of 2020, and mark a virtual homecoming for TV personality and drag queen Mark Suknanan, who will deliver the convocation address and will be presented with the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
During the eight years since he crossed the stage at his own convocation, the NC Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film alumnus (2012), known as Suki, became the face of YTV shows including The Zone and Next Star Nation. His drag alter ego, Priyanka, also catapulted into the limelight; most recently, winning the hearts of judges and fans of reality TV series Canada’s Drag Race (2020) as he/she was crowned Canada’s Next Drag Superstar.
“This is incredible! I am so excited to be a part of this,” said Suknanan. “It wasn’t that long ago, at Niagara College, that I was inspired to follow my dreams. I hope to do the same for this year’s graduates.”
“We look forward to welcoming back alumnus Mark Suknanan as our fall convocation speaker,” said College president Sean Kennedy. “His powerful message about his journey to success will surely inspire our new class of graduates.”
The live, interactive virtual ceremonies will contain many treasured elements of the College’s traditional in-person convocation events– including inspiring speeches and the reading of each graduate’s name – while leveraging the use of technology and the College’s expertise in broadcasting to connect graduates remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While president Kennedy and vice president, Academic, Fiona Allan will address viewers live from the Welland Campus, viewers will also hear from the College’s president emeritus Dan Patterson – who ended his tenure as NC’s longest-serving president after 25 years in February – along with video well wishes from College faculty, staff, alumni and more.
As they watch the livestream ceremony, graduates are invited to connect with their classmates through zoom viewing parties and make a virtual appearance during the ceremony broadcast. The College has also created a custom social media experience for graduates and guests to post and view live reactions, photos, and messages during the ceremonies shared with the hashtag #NCGrad2020.
Virtual convocation serves as applied learning in action for a team of the College’s Broadcasting students who – alongside staff and faculty – take on various roles behind the scenes, from directing, editing and audio mixing, to camera and teleprompter operators, floor managers and more.
“I’m tremendously proud of how Niagara College has risen above the challenge of hosting convocation during a global pandemic, by truly breaking new ground with our virtual ceremonies,” said Kennedy. “Our innovative model for Virtual Convocation, which was a resounding success in the spring, enables our 2020 graduates to mark their special milestone achievement in a meaningful, interactive way; connecting them with their families, classmates and friends in real time, ‘NC Together.’”
The upcoming fall ceremonies follow the resounding success of NC’s Virtual Spring Convocation in June, which celebrated 5,000 graduates through 10 ceremonies and drew tens of thousands of viewers from across Niagara, Canada and around the world.
Two virtual ceremonies will be held this fall: a morning ceremony at 10 a.m. (schools of Allied Health, Community Services, Justice and Fitness, Nursing and Personal Support Worker), and an afternoon ceremony at 2 p.m. (schools of Academic, Liberal and Access Studies; Business and Management; Hospitality, Tourism and Sport; Environment and Horticulture; Media; and Trades).
Visit the College’s Virtual Convocation site to view the schedule or to access the livestream ceremonies at niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.
Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.