HONOURED - From left, Gillian Coulton recieved the Governor General’s Academic Medal (Collegiate Bronze Level) and Brittany Lessard received the Red Deer College Foundation Outstanding Student Award during the Red Deer College convocation ceremonies held June 1st at Westerner Park. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

WATCH: RDC celebrates student success at 54th convocation ceremonies

Students honoured with special awards for outstanding achievements

Hundreds of Red Deer College students marked a tremendous milestone June 1st during convocation ceremonies at Westerner Park.

In total, 592 out of 1,950 eligible graduates crossed the stage to celebrate their achievements.

“The number of graduates that will cross the stage makes this the largest convocation day we have had in RDC’s 54-year history,” said Joel Ward, president & CEO.

“All of us at RDC are so proud to celebrate and to honour the accomplishments of our students.

“It’s clear to me that we are going to have to have more graduation ceremonies – we’ll probably move from two to three in the next couple of years,” he said. “New programs, more students, more diversity – I’ve really seen a change – this is my ninth convocation year. It’s amazing to see the diversity of students and the success they are having.

“We try to make every moment special for every student,” he added of the ceremonies. “We really make an effort to make sure every student feels like this is their moment, so we put all our energy into ensuring we get a good picture with them, that we call them by name and make them feel comfortable when they walk across the stage.

“Today is a great day for them.”

An honorary degree was presented to Dr. Timothy Richards in recognition of his contributions to agricultural economics, to training and mentoring students and to leading change across North America in the agribusiness sector.

Originally from Central Alberta, Richards began his professional journey as an economics student at RDC, and he later instructed at the College.

Since then, he has gone on to become one of the foremost researchers and educators in his field with a focus on reducing food waste, which will have real-world applications across North America and beyond, noted a College release.

“It’s great – it’s a fantastic honour,” he said. “I’ve always been a big champion of Red Deer College.

“Like Morris (Flewwelling) said, ‘You’ll always be welcome back at RDC’, and that’s real. I always feel that.”

Two students were also recognized for their contributions to academics and to the community.

During the morning ceremony, the Governor General’s Academic Medal (Collegiate Bronze Level) was presented to Gillian Coulton.

Coulton had the highest academic standing of all RDC diploma students this year, as she completed the final year of her diploma-level post-secondary program in visual arts.

“This award really shows how supportive RDC is of its students,” said Coulton. “It’s really great – it’s a good feeling,” she said. Coulton is planning to attend the University of Calgary to pursue her studies in fine arts.

“I hope to eventually pursue teaching depending on how that goes,” she added. “But in any case, I will definitely still be involved in the fine arts for the foreseeable future.”

Dr. Paulette Hanna, vice president, academic, said that the Governor General’s Academic Bronze Medal represents outstanding scholarly achievement that speaks to dedication and hard work on the part of the student.

“It is a privilege to see a deserving student be presented with this award each year, and Gillian Coulton’s academic record sets her apart, making her a worthy recipient of this medal.”

The Red Deer College Foundation Outstanding Student Award was presented to Brittany Lessard for her leadership and commitment to RDC.

“The community here at Red Deer College has had such a profoundly positively impact on my life,” she said. “It’s hard to express in words the honour that I feel to be receiving this award.

“I have sat on the Red Deer College Students’ Association student council, and I was the president of the Education Undergrad Society,” she said of just a couple examples of her commitments at the College.

“I’ll be back at RDC next year sitting on the Students’ Association executive so I’m really excited for what that will mean.”

The award acknowledges a student who has demonstrated exceptional contributions to the College and the community, said Holly Dickson, chair of RDC’s Foundation Board.

“With her tremendous contributions as a student leader across a variety of groups and her extensive work to support the needs of both current and future students, Brittany is a very deserving recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Student Award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship presented by the Red Deer College Foundation.”

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