Congratulations Graduates

Dr Michelle Meagher - 22 June 2020

Congratulations Graduates!

On June 13, 2020, professors from the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies held a virtual convocation to celebrate students graduating from our program. We donned our academic robes and prepared for virtual hugs and farewells. Here’s what department chair Michelle Meagher had to say at that event:

In 1984, a group of professors and administrators struck an Advisory Committee on Women’s Studies. By 1986, plans for an undergraduate degree program in the field were put into motion and the first students were admitted in 1988. Here we are, more than 30 years later, a strong and growing program with you, our graduates, at the heart of the work that we do as a department. This year, this strange year, sees 10 students graduating with the major  in Women’s and Gender Studies, 14 with the minor, and 2 earning honors Degrees. 

One of those honors students, Kenna McDowell, is the recipient of the Helga Dalman Memorial Award, which was established by Lillian McPherson, a long time librarian in the faculty of Law, in honor of her mother. The award goes to the top graduating student in our department - congratulations to Kenna for this honor. Previous recipients of this award have gone on to be teachers, professors, lawyers, social workers; all of them, and indeed all of our graduates in the minor, major, or honors stream never cease to impress and amaze me. 

Your degree has taught you many things - from critical thinking and communication and group work, to rich theoretical concepts like intersectionality, social construction, standpoint theory, and institutionalized racism, sexism, and settler colonialism. 

Just as importantly, your degree has prepared you for many things - it has prepared you to move out into the world ready to challenge those things that are taken for granted, to step up to the difficult work of social justice whether you practice it in a profession, in paid employment, in your family and kin networks, or in your community engagement and activism. 

At the online convocation on June 12th, we heard from the president, the provost, and the alumni speaker, the right honorable Beverly McLachlin and they all emphasized the role of University of Alberta graduates as change makers. I’m not sure that they knew it, but they were talking about you - Women’s and Gender Studies graduates - folks whose energy, enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and care for just futures will be part of huge transformations in the way we live with each other. 

I’m so excited to see the world that you will help to build. On behalf of the whole department, I extend my warmest congratulations. 

Michelle Meagher, Department Chair