Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX graduates encouraged to make a difference, as achievement honoured during Fall Convocation 2015

December 5th, 2015
StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald (left) congratulations a member of the 2015 graduating class

Graduates of St. Francis Xavier University and StFX’s Coady International Institute were charged with one simple message during Fall Convocation 2015—to make a difference.

“Now what will you do with this extraordinary gift we call a StFX credential. How will you make a difference?” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald asked the over 200 StFX graduates and 39 graduates of StFX’s Coady Institute who were celebrated for their achievement in the ceremony held Dec. 5 at the Keating Centre.
 
Businessman and philanthropist Victor Dahdaleh was honoured during the ceremony with the degree Doctor of Laws honoris causa. Mr. Dahdaleh is owner and chairman of Dadco and affiliated companies, and has supported many causes through the Dahdaleh Charitable Foundation.
 
“You now have this great responsibility and possibility to do good,” Dr. MacDonald said in his address to Convocation. 
 
“Is that not the StFX way, is that not what StFX graduates try to do on a daily basis, to just try to make a difference.
 
“We’re proud of your accomplishments, graduates.”
Chancellor Dr. Susan Crocker (left) congratulations a 2015 graduate

As Dr. MacDonald recognized this final Class of 2015, he also took time to acknowledge the contributions of StFX faculty and staff, and the family and friends of the graduates who have helped them in their StFX journey. 
 
“Here at StFX you showed us it is possible to come together and address issues of importance with civility, respect and an open mind.
 
“You’re joining a family of one of the most unique around the world, it’s called the StFX family,” he said.
 
In his remarks, Dr. Dahdaleh also advised graduates to follow StFX’s mission statement and to try to make a difference in the world.
 
“You are also asked to think of your degree as an opportunity to change the world,” he advised graduates.
 
Today is a day to celebrate your achievement, and it is also about looking toward the future, Dr. Dahdaleh said as he shared lessons he’s learned over the course of his life, advising graduates to invest in people, to build long term relationships, to be humble, and to never give up. 
 
“StFX is one of the most distinguished institutions in Canada and it’s an honour to join you today,” he said as he congratulated graduates. 
 
 
Mansi Bajpai

Mansi Bajpai of India gave the address on behalf of the Coady International Institute graduates. She read the speech of behalf of Coady graduate Meaza Bahiru, program associate at Ethiopian Agricultural .

 
“I loved my time here, and I’m probably speaking for all of us. But it wasn’t always easy,” she told Convocation. 
 
“Now we’ve emerged from all the challenges, better ready,” she said.
 
“To everyone who touched our lives, we say thank you,” she said as he also offered big congratulations to classmates on their achievement. 
 
Receiving major honours at the ceremony were StFX philosophy professor Dr. Will Sweet, who received the 2015 StFX Outreach Award; and the Park Bench Players who received the StFX Community Partner Recognition Award.
 
In one of the highlights of the ceremony, StFX student Catherine Baillie Abidi of Halifax, NS became the first student to graduate from the PhD in Educational Studies program, a unique inter-university education doctoral program launched in 2010 by three Nova Scotia universities, StFX, Mount St. Vincent and Acadia University. She received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Studies.
 
StFX Alumni Association vice-president Glenn Horne congratulated all and encouraged everyone to stay connected with the StFX family. “We’re eager to support you in your journey, any way we can.
 
“The one thing we ask you is to become engaged,” he said, encouraging all to put their talents to work in their future communities.  
 
Victor Phillip Michael Dahdaleh    
Victor Phillip Michael Dahdaleh is the owner and chairman of Dadco and affiliated companies. Dadco is a privately owned investment, manufacturing and trading group. Its founding company was established in 1915 with operations and investments in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and Australia. Mr. Dahdaleh holds several positions with non-profit organizations. He is a trustee of the William J. Clinton Foundation; a board member of the McGill University Trust; past president of the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce; a board member of the International Aluminium Institute (IAI); and a Fellow of the Duke of Edinburgh Award World Fellowship. He is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and is a graduate of McGill University and York University. The Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Charitable Foundation, also known as the Dahdaleh Foundation, was created to provide a focus for charitable giving. Over time, the support the Dahdaleh Foundation provides has been focused in three main areas: improving access to education for those in need of support; improving health and wellness for those in need of support; and improving the relationship between Canada and other parts of the world. The Dahdaleh Foundation has supported many worthy causes over a number of years. Some recipients have included London School of Economics, McGill University, British Heart Foundation, Brompton Hospital in London, Imperial College (London), the Maple Leaf Trust and the new Canada House Gallery in London. The foundation has also contributed to a wide range of global causes such as the economic and social development. 
 
Dr. Will Sweet
2015 Outreach Award recipient
Dr. Will Sweet epitomizes academic excellence while dedicating himself to community service. While maintaining a busy teaching and research schedule, the StFX philosophy professor has been a tireless volunteer and integral part of hands-on health care ethics for two decades in Antigonish. He’s led and supported ethics committee development, clinical and organizational ethical decision making, and ethics education at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital and the Guysborough-Antigonish Strait Health Authority. He’s also shared his talents with the StFX Association of University Teachers, the Coady International Institute, StFX Chaplaincy, Service Learning, StFX’s Classics for Classics, the Dr. Moses M. Coady Debating Competition and X-Project. He’s been extensively involved as well at the regional and national level, including serving as president of the Canadian Philosophical Association. 
 
The Park Bench Players
2015 StFX Community Partner Recognition Award
The Park Bench Players are an award-winning amateur theatre troupe, and a group of courageous men and women who have positively impacted StFX and the Antigonish community through their brilliant and moving performances. A collaborative education project involving the Nova Scotia Health Authority, they have played a major role in raising awareness and reducing stigma toward people living with chronic mental illness, by educating others. Many StFX students, faculty, staff, and wider community have benefitted greatly from attending their performances. The no fee admission allows for all to attend. In particular, student nurses say they have benefitted greatly from hearing about the experiences of the Park Bench Players, and StFX education students say they’ve benefitted from being involved in Service Learning projects with them. The Players have helped open important conversations and increased support services around mental health. 
 

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