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Graduate numbers up at Thebacha
Students, friends and families celebrate at Aurora College graduation in Fort Smith

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 6, 2013

April 26 was a major day in the lives of 41 students at Aurora College in Fort Smith.

NNSL photo/graphic

After receiving a certificate in business administration, Violet Edji of Fort Good Hope receives flowers and congratulations from Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya. - photo courtesy of Aurora College

It was the day they were handed their degree, diploma or certificate at the school's graduation ceremony.

Glenn Bourke, the campus manager of Thebacha Campus and master of ceremonies for the convocation, said he was pleased with the number of graduates this year, noting there were 17 two years ago.

Fort Smith's Jessi Johnson, who received a diploma after finishing the two-year business administration course, said all the graduates were both excited and nervous for the big day.

"It was exciting," she said of the graduation experience.

Johnson said it was important for her to finish post-secondary education, adding she has a two-year-old daughter.

"Furthering my education is highly important to me in order to support my family," she said.

Bourke said the graduation was a major event in the students' lives.

"A lot of them haven't graduated from high school," he said. "So this is their only graduation that they're ever going to take part in."

As for what their new education will mean for the students' home communities, Bourke said, "I think they will go back to their communities and contribute to the economy by working and just being proud of their accomplishments."

The graduates earned six bachelor degrees in education, eight business administration diplomas, 10 business administration certificates, seven office administration certificates, five diplomas in environment and natural resources technology, four certificates in early childhood development, and one teacher education diploma.

There were two valedictorians for the convocation ceremonies - Fort Smith's Alexander Yakupov, who earned a diploma in environmental and natural resources technology, and Abby Gardiner of Saskatchewan, who was awarded a Bachelor of Education degree.

Premier Bob McLeod attended the convocation, congratulating the students and stressing the importance of education in his speech. The premier also said the majority of people in the North who have a diploma or degree are employed.

The Thebacha Campus Student Association presented two student of the year awards, one to Jessica Hval of Fort Smith and the other to Felicia Beaulieu of Behchoko.

The board of governors presents its award for student leadership at Thebacha Campus to Katie White, a first-year student in the environment and natural resources technology program. White was praised as a tireless volunteer who planned and organized a project for a new playground and also organized events such as First Night family activities in Fort Smith. She also won the Town of Fort Smith Achievement Award.

An honorary diploma in environment and natural resources technology was presented to Louie Beaulieu, who has devoted much of his life to keeping traditional Metis lifestyle alive and passing on his vast store of knowledge and skills. At the ceremony, Beaulieu was thanked for being an integral part for more than a decade of P.W. Kaeser High School's winter camp.

A convocation ceremony for Aurora College students at the Yellowknife North Slave Campus took place on May 4 and a graduation at the Aurora Campus in Inuvik is set for May 10.

NNSL photo/graphic

Aurora College Thebacha Campus graduates

Office administration certificate

  • Felicia Beaulieu, Behchoko
  • Jackie Heron, Fort Smith
  • Shelly Lafferty, Fort Smith
  • Roberta Mandeville, Fort Smith
  • Delaney Poitras, Fort Smith
  • Denise Robert, Fort McPherson
  • Destiny Thom-Gargan, Fort Providence

Business administration certificate

  • Delores Burke, Fort Smith
  • Naomi Champagne, Fort Smith
  • Gerald Chocolate, Gameti
  • Violet Edji, Fort Good Hope
  • Jessica Kimble, Enterprise
  • Jessica Kokoszka, Fort Smith
  • Janelle Pierrot, Fort Good Hope
  • Lars Rusch, Fort Smith
  • Martha Stewart, Colville Lake
  • Brad Tuckey, Fort Smith

Business administration diploma

  • Paul Boucher, Fort Resolution
  • Jodie Doctor, Deline
  • Jessi Johnson, Fort Smith
  • Courtenay Kakfwi, Yellowknife
  • April Kokoszka, Fort Smith
  • Christy Lafferty-Woledge, Hay River
  • Paulette Martel, Hay River
  • Tiffany Shiels-Campbell, Hay River

Environment and natural resources technology diploma

  • Erin Goose, Yellowknife
  • Kyla Gray, Hay River
  • Maja Haogak, Inuvik
  • Amber Simpson, Fort Smith
  • Alexander Yakupov, Fort Smith (Ukraine)

Early childhood development certificate

  • Melinda Brown, Fort Simpson
  • Grace Gardiner, Hay River Reserve
  • Tanya Klassen, Fort Simpson
  • Verda Larocque, Fort Resolution

Teacher education diploma

  • Tiffinnea Roberts, Fort Smith

Bachelor of education degree

  • Mary Elizabeth Cochrane-MacDonald, Tulita
  • Betty Elias, Tuktoyaktuk
  • Abby Gardiner, Beauval, Sask.
  • Moriah Hoyles, Fort Smith
  • Jessica Hval, Fort Smith
  • Kristy Steeves, Fort Smith

Source: Aurora College Thebacha Campus

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