That was the advice comedian and StFX graduate Gerry Dee ’94 gave to over 930 students filled with pride and excitement as they received their cherished X-Rings on December 3, on the Feast Day of St. Francis Xavier.
“The work doesn’t stop now, all that hard work can’t end now,” the star and creator of the TV series Mr. D told the Class of 2016 in a funny, poignant address in which he recalled his time at StFX.
“Wear that ring with pride, just as I do,” he told the students, who have been counting down the moments to this ceremony for 1,187 days, since their first day on campus.
“You can be average, average is easy. Now the question is, what will you do to be exceptional,” he said as he told them about a moment on campus that put things in perspective for him.
Cut from the varsity hockey team, he was upset until one day he met a student from the Coady International Institute who had to put in much effort just to get to class.
“Growing up for me happened here,” he said.
“Every time I look down at my X-Ring, I am reminded of that walk through campus.”
He told the students they need to be responsible for their own success. “I’ve been told no more times than yes, if you keep believing, if you keep working, the only person who can tell you no is you.”
It was a highlight on a day filled with personal and shared highlights.
MEANS SO MUCH
This day means so much to so many people, StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald said as he welcomed all to campus including parents, family and friends who filled the Oland Centre and campus conference rooms to watch the ceremony on big screens.
Family members came from British Columbia and Yellowknife, from the U.S. to Sierra Leone.
“Let this ring remind you of the 163 year history of commitment to equity and social justice and the long track record of being leaders in our community,” Dr. MacDonald said.
“Let this ring remind you you’re not too young to begin now.”
In remarks centred around a theme that energy and persistence can conquer anything, he told the Class of 2016 part of what makes StFX Canada’s greatest undergraduate university is this Xaverian Spirit.
“There’s something to be said for the connection we will always have to StFX,” Senior Class president and master of ceremony Rita Snow told classmates.
“It is a piece of jewellery,” she said, “but it is a reminder of the first midterm we ever wrote…the representation of self-confidence and hard work…and perhaps a reminder for the future to always reach.”
The ceremony was filled with touching moments.
Vocalist Jessica de Domenico wrote and performed a song especially for the ceremony as senior students proceeded to centre stage to illuminate an X candle.
Students Alex Miller read the StFX motto and Rebecca Bishop read from the writings of Dr. Moses Coady, while Meaghan Wright, vice-president of the Senior Class, introduced the honorary X-Ring recipient, always a closely guarded secret.
This year, the honour went to business professor Dr. Neil Maltby, described as “a remarkable and dedicated professor” who embraces the StFX motto, and who truly cares about students. His daughter, Ella, also an X-Ring recipient, joined him on stage.
Students’ Union president Troy Mrazek received his grandfather’s X-Ring from 1962, and his sister Sam Mrazek received her mother’s, StFX nursing professor Dr. Charmaine McPherson, from 1988.
“So how does it feel?” Glenn Horne, vice-president of the StFX Alumni Association, asked moments after the students received their rings.
“On behalf all alumni,” he said “we are so very proud of what you’ve accomplished and seeing what’s next.”
All day, alumni from around the globe offered well wishes and memories over social media.
“It’s more than just a ring; it symbolizes community, pride, hard work, connection, memories & excellence,” tweeted Sarah Berry.
“Congrats to all of those receiving X rings today. You will leave @stfxuniversity, but it won’t leave you. #xring,” wrote Bevan Woodacre.
The ceremony ended with the singing of the school song Hail and Health. In keeping with tradition, students tapped their new X-Ring on a piece of Chapel wood, a kneeler brought over for the ceremony, as they filed out of the Keating Centre.