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Convocation draws hundreds to UNBC

Celebration was in the air at the University of Northern British Columbia on Friday.
Rehema Kishiwa is all smiles as she walks with other graduates of Bachelor of Social Work from the Agora Courtyard to the UNBC Convocation Ceremonies at the Northern Sport Centre Friday morning.

Celebration was in the air at the University of Northern British Columbia on Friday.

The university's main convocation was held at the campus, starting with the arts, social and health sciences students in the morning and followed by the science and management students in the afternoon.

And if the words of Cameron Bell, 23, one of two valedictorians, are anything to go by, the new graduates are on a mission.

"We're going out into the north amid this era of unprecedented industrial development and we're the future of northern B.C.," said Bell, who earned a bachelor of arts in environmental studies. "We're the team that has to figure out how northern B.C. is going to take advantage of everything that's happening to our generation."

Hundreds were on hand to receive their degrees, and while all accomplished something monumental, some did stand out more than others.

Along with completing a doctorate in natural resource and environmental studies, Ian Picketts was awarded the Governor General Gold Medal as UNBC's top graduate student.

Picketts, 34, had been studying community adaptation to climate change and had been working closely with planners and engineers at the City of Prince George.

"It's been a lot of how to take more quantitative, more traditional science information and how you can apply information like that to affect policy," Picketts said. "It was a really interesting challenge.

"How to take information that traditionally is only kept between scientists and communicate it to the public was another really interesting challenge."

Picketts, who grew up in Brantford, Ont., completed an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering at Queens University in Kingston. After a spell of working in Calgary, he and his family moved to Prince George in 2007 where he completed a masters at UNBC before pursuing a doctorate.

He'll be heading off to a position at Quest University in Squamish.

Johnathan Brian Gorman, a biochemistry student, earned the Governor General Silver Medal as the top undergraduate.

Honorary degrees were handed out on the day to renowned ethnobiologist Nancy J. Turner and award-winning architect Michael Green.

UNBC will also hold convocation ceremonies at three of its regional campuses - Terrace, Gitwinksihlkw, and Quesnel - next week and by the end of it all, more than 800 credentials will have been granted.

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