Margaret (Marmie) Perkins HessDr Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess
University of Alberta, November 20, 2003
Eminent Chancellor Ferguson, President and Vice-Chancellor Fraser, Board of Governors Representative Heidecker, Senators, members of the platform party, graduands from the Faculties of Graduate Studies and Research; Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics; Medicine and Dentistry; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Rehabilitation Medicine; family and friends.
It is a heartfelt honour to be here today to receive an honorary degree, 70 years after I first attended the University of Alberta.
Congratulations to each of you graduands who have made a strong commitment to further your education, culminating in your convocation today. Also, let us recognize family members and friends who have provided support and encouragement throughout this journey.
I remember when I was a student here during the 1930s: my President of the University of Alberta, Dr R.C. Wallace, prophesied — and it is still relevant in 2003:
"The significance of utilitarian education is to make a living and discharge our civic responsibilities.
"Education comes only with mature years and all that the formal training of school or university can do is give the incentive for the process of self-education which is the work of a lifetime."
President Wallace believed that the measure of a liberal education is what we do with our leisure time — that is, the time spent contributing to our family, community, and nation beyond the bounds of vocation or profession.
Throughout my lifetime experience, often I consider one of my favourite passages:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
"A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
"A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
"A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
"A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
"A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
"A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
"A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."
Today, you the graduating class of 2003, and I share this November 20th day, our special time, our season together.
Since leaving the University of Alberta in 1936, I have enjoyed a wonderful world of dreams, opportunities, and experiences.
Each of us in this room has a dream. The difference in living and in only being alive is to make the dream into a vision and through work, achieve that vision.
Each of us has had the dream to graduate from the University of Alberta. Through vision and effort, we have made it reality. We have made this, our dream, come true today. For both you and for me, it has meant many hours of dedication and study. My journey to this destination has taken a lifetime of one day at a time searching to learn from friends, colleagues, and experiences. Your journey as graduates is beginning and though you have taken a different road, we arrive here together for a moment today with one shared dream fulfilled. Through this convocation ceremony, we are entering the privilege and support of being alumni of our University of Alberta.
Each in our own way will continue to search for meaning in our life. Each human in their own environment and time must dream and hope in order to make a difference. After all, life is what we make it.
My mentor, Janet Bridgeland, expresses:
"The 21st century is an exciting time to be living in. The communications revolution has brought about Marshall McLuhan's global village. For example, the Internet is a great democratizer where everyone can have a voice, participate, communicate instantly with others around the globe.
"The problem/danger is that technology is evolving more quickly than we are as human beings in setting the pace of our lives. Modern communications create a sense of false urgency, less time for reflection as people are 'plugged in' 24 hours a day. For example, we take laptops on vacation and have cell phones held to our ears as we walk down the street.
"We have become a sound bite, commercialized society … more acquisitive and less inquisitive.
"Even our leisure time is organized. We go to the health clubs rather than walk in the woods where we can commune with nature, reflect, and experience our essence and our connection with the 'timeless' rather than the fleeting.
"We need to stop and remember to ground ourselves in the longer human continuum. And we need to learn to listen to ourselves, which comes in the stillness and quiet. Acquisitiveness is leading us to view education as 'in order to' … get a good job, make good money, etc.
"Don't lose sight of the importance of inquisitiveness, finding and following one's passion, learning from each situation.
"Don't worry about making the 'right choice.' All experiences are valuable although you may not see the direct application at the time. Allow for serendipity in your life, learn to recognize and embrace it — don't over-program yourself.
"Remember that the most valuable lessons as a child are figuring things out, non-structured play. Keep that childlike spirit in approaching today's world … it will keep you engaged with life and others."
We have much for which to be thankful.
Could we say together — Quaecumque Vera — whatsoever things are true.