Health Sciences Convocation, May 25, 2017, 2:30 p.m.

Health Sciences Convocation, May 25, 2017, 2:30 p.m.

(bagpipe music) (audience applauding) (inspiring classical music) (inspiring piano music) – [Announcer] Ladies and gentlemen. Please rise for the academic
procession and the Chancellor. (fanfare music) – I declare that the 566th convocation of McMaster University for
the conferring of degrees is now in session. Please be seated. Good afternoon. I am Dr. David Wilkinson,
Provost and Vice-President Academic of the University. This afternoon I have the
great pleasure of acting as your master of ceremony
and welcoming you all, graduands and guests, to
this convocation ceremony. I would like to start by
recognizing and acknowledging that we meet today on the
traditional territories of the Mississauga and
Haudenosaunee nations, and within the lands protected by the Dish With One
Spoon wampum agreement. I would like to take this
opportunity to acknowledge some of the notable leaders
joining me on the stage today. Dr. Suzanne Labarge, Chancellor. Dr. Patrick Deane, President
and Vice-Chancellor. Dr. Paul O'Byrne, Dean and
Vice-President Health Sciences. Ms. Mary Williams, Vice-President,
University Advancement. Associate and Assistant Vice-Presidents. Associate and Assistant
Deans, Chairs, Directors, faculty members and honored guests. Before we start our formal program, may I first ask everyone in the hall to switch off any electronic device that may ring or beep during the ceremony.

I would now like to call
upon our Chancellor, Dr. Suzanne Labarge, to make
her own welcoming remarks. – Welcome, honored guests,
staff, faculty, families, friends and most importantly, graduands. This is an exciting day for all of you who are graduating today, as well as for all those
people who have supported you and stood behind you, and in many cases, have had a key role in
you being here today.

You've achieved a great deal to get here and you should all be
very proud of your success and looking forward to what
the future might bring. Convocation is, of course,
a time of celebration. But today we must acknowledge
that this particular ceremony is an unusual one. It is the first convocation
in more than 50 years that the McMaster family celebrates without Dr. Peter George. Dr. George was a much loved
teacher, a respected researcher, and a talented administrator. He served 15 years as our
President and Vice-Chancellor, leading a period of, as he would say, transformational change.

Following his retirement
in 2010, he remained active in the McMaster community
as a president emeritus. In March of this year, he
received an honorary degree to acknowledge his many contributions and many years of service
to the institution. As many of you know,
Peter died last month. So, as the McMaster family
gathers for convocation, we also remember the passing
of a mentor, a leader, and a dear, dear friend. Peter would have been the first, however, to insist that we turn
the convocation spotlight quickly back to where it belongs, on our graduands and honorees. So let's do that now. Congratulations to you all
and enjoy the ceremony. (all applauding) – I would now like to
introduce Dr. Patrick Deane, President and Vice-Chancellor
who will be presenting our honorary degree recipients. – Madam Chancellor, by the
authority of the Senate of McMaster University, I have the honor to
present Abraham Verghese.

(all applauding) Abraham Verghese is a
physician, author, educator, and patient advocate. Born in Ethiopia, Dr. Verghese immigrated to the United States and
worked as a medical orderly in a community hospital, where
he witnessed the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. He studied medicine in
India, like his parents, and returned to the United States, taking a residency at East
Tennessee State University, eventually becoming chief resident. He then completed a fellowship
in infectious diseases at Boston University before
returning to East Tennessee as an assistant professor. Dr. Verghese has also held
senior medical postings with the VA Medical Center
in Johnson City, Tennessee, the Division of Infectious
Diseases at Texas Tech University and the University of Texas
Health Science Center, where he was the Marvin
Forland distinguished professor of medical ethics and the director of the Center for Medical
and Humanities Ethics.

In the midst of that
impressive career arc, Dr. Verghese took a break from medicine to earn a master of fine arts
degree in creative writing from the University of Iowa. Today, Dr. Verghese is the
Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor and Vice-Chair for the Theory & Practice of
Medicine at Stanford University. He served as director of the
residency training program in internal medicine and
established the program for the promotion of bedside medicine. Dr. Verghese has been honored
by medical organizations worldwide, including being elected as a fellow of the Association
of American Physicians, the Institute of Medicine
of the National Academies, and the Royal College
of Physicians of Canada. He has received the John P. McGovern Medal from the Osler Society, the Nicholas Davies Humanities Award from the American College of Physicians, the National Humanities Medal, as well as an impressive
list of teaching awards.

Dr. Verghese is also a prolific author. His first book, My Own
Country: A Doctor's Story, was based on his time as an orderly. The book won the National
Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction. The Tennis Partner, another
personal work of nonfiction, was a New York Times notable book. And his first novel, Cutting for Stone, was a New York Times best seller and shortlisted for the
Wellcome Trust Book Prize. That book, in which the
protagonist is a surgeon, explores the author's belief
in healthcare practice that comforts and reassures patients, as illustrated by the following exchange, what treatment in an emergency
is administered by ear? The answer, of course,
is, words of comfort. He's published more
than five dozen articles in widely read and respected publications, including The Atlantic, The
New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The
New Yorker, Life Magazine, Forbes, and even Sports Illustrated. In 2011, Dr. Verghese's roles
as a physician, a storyteller, and a patient advocate united
when he delivered the TED talk A Doctor's Touch.

His compelling arguments that modern medical
technology is not a substitute for traditional
physician-patient interaction has now been viewed more
than 1.3 million times. Madam Chancellor, I present
to you, a physician, an advocate, and an author,
whose work at the bedside, at the podium, and at the keyboard has helped strengthen the
culture of patient-centered care that is so much a part of the character of McMaster's Faculty of Health Sciences. I ask that you confer
upon Abraham Verghese the degree Doctor of
Science Honoris Causa.

– Abraham Verghese, by the authority of McMaster University Senate, I have the great pleasure
to confer upon you the degree Doctor of Science Honoris Causa at McMaster University with
all the rights and privileges pertaining to that degree. Congratulations. (all applauding) Now you get to sign this. (speech drowned by applause) Yes. And I would now like
to invite Dr. Verghese to deliver the Convocation Address. – Madam Chancellor, President Deane, Dean O'Byrne, honored
guests, family and friends, and most of all, graduates,
it's a great honor to be asked to deliver this address and to receive a doctorate from McMaster. To the graduating students,
thank you for allowing me to share this moment with you. Today is the culmination
of a dream that began when you were very young. Perhaps you worked very
hard, sacrificed much to get to this moment, now
here you are, capped and gowned at this once in a lifetime ritual with all its pomp and ceremony, this wonderful rite of passage.

Now you could get your degree without attending a convocation, but as I will say more
about it in just a minute, rituals matter. Rituals work at many levels. It says something wonderful about you that you believe in this
ritual, that you showed up, because showing up for rituals that matter is perhaps the best advice I can give you. But first, if this
ritual is about anything, it's also about acknowledging the people who are here celebrating with you, the ones who made this possible for you, it's their ritual, too. I'm talking about your
partners, your spouses, your children, your family, your friends. We accomplish nothing alone, nothing. They, too, had to show up. It truly takes a village. So please join me in
saluting and applauding those who stood with you on this journey. (all applauding) McMaster has a wonderful
reputation for excellence in so many areas, but in medicine, as a clinician on the
frontline, I associate that name with pioneering work on
evidence-based medicine. Still, the evidence-based
about convocation speeches, I'm afraid, is not very good. It turns out that your memories
of this day that survive will be in inverse proportion
to your celebrations, your libations tonight.
(audience laughing) In fact, without the
evidence of the certificate that you'll place on your
wall, there will come a day when you might question
whether you were actually here, and whether I was here.

The best I can hope for
that you say about me is, at least he was brief.
(audience laughing) Given the state of affairs, I
decided that I would be brief and talk about just one thing. One thing that I'm
hoping you will remember, that I trust will be
relevant to all of you regardless of your discipline,
even though I may be speaking from the vantage point of a
window of practicing medicine. And that one thing, ladies
and gentlemen, is ritual. Such as this one, that you're
participating in right now. You're dressed in a way that
you otherwise never dress like. And I'm dressed as I rarely dress. With distinguished faculty on the stage, you marched and proceeded by
a bedel carrying the mace, an instrument of battle that's
also a metaphor of power. Our anthropology colleagues
teach us that rituals are all about crossing a threshold. They represent a transformation,
whether it's a baptism or a bar mitzvah, an inauguration,
a funeral, a graduation.

Take marriage, we marry
with great pomp and ceremony and huge expense to signal
our departure from a life of loneliness, solitude, and
misery to one of eternal bliss. (audience laughing) I'm not sure why you're laughing because– (audience laughing) Graduates, I have to ask you, what are the rituals of your life? Of your work? As you apply for jobs
in the next few years, what are the key rituals
of your chosen field? Remember that question because
I'm gonna come back to it. As a physician, I confess,
it took me a while to see how critical ritual was in my work. What do I mean by ritual in my work? Well, if you think about
the usual clinic visits, two strangers are often coming together, one person in the room will be wearing this white shamanistic outfit
with tools in their pockets, and the other individual
will be wearing a paper gown that no one knows how to tie or untie. The furniture in the
room looks nothing like the furniture in your house or mine. The individual in the paper
gown will then begin to tell the other one things that they
would never tell their rabbi or their preacher, and my
specialty of infectious disease, they will tell me things they
would never tell their spouse.

And then, incredibly, they
will disrobe and allow touch, which in any other context
in society would be assault, but the physician gets the privilege in the setting of this ritual. And I care for people from
all kinds of ethnic groups and I'm struck by how many
different beliefs they have about illness, about
disease, about treatment. But they all know about ritual. And you put them in that
room with all its setup and they know they're
about to embark in a ritual and if you do it poorly, if you just do a prod of their belly and stick your stethoscope on
the gown, they're on to you, they can tell when you're doing
it well just as you can tell when you're in the hands
of a thoughtful barista, a good chef, a good
hairdresser, a good mechanic.

Rituals done well signify people who are doing their jobs well. The ritual of the exam allows many things. It allows us to find the clues to disease that are on the body that we can read. But rituals, as I said,
are about transformation. In this ritual, the
transformation is the sealing of the patient-physician
relationship, if you do it well. But my sense is that rituals, if we submit ourselves to them, they offer another level of meaning, something transformative,
something transcendental. I learned this firsthand
in the early years of the AIDS epidemic
before we had any treatment and I recall a patient, a young man, and there were so many like
him, he was my age at the time, and I followed him for
months in the clinic and he had to be hospitalized,
he was just fading.

He was dying. And each day I would come to
his bedside and I'd visit him and I'd talk to his mother,
and not knowing what else to do in this sacred hallowed
space that surrounded him with his mother holding vigil. After a while, I would begin
to examine him, albeit briefly. I would listen to his heart,
I would percuss his lungs, feel his abdomen, feel his spleen, even though it was very unlikely
I would discover anything that would change what we did. I engaged in this ritual out of habit, relieved that it gave me something to do, some purpose at the bedside.

One day, when I came by, his mother, that eternal figure there,
told me that he'd not spoken or come to consciousness
since the previous noon. It seemed certain that he was
about to die, and in fact, he did pass away a few hours later. But strangely, at that moment,
as he heard us talking, as he heard my voice, we
saw his hands begin to move. She was astonished, 'cause she
had not seen anything before. And I was astonished, and we're wondering what is he gonna do, and he saw his skeletal fingers flutter up and then move to this wicker
basket of a chest of his. And it took us a while to understand that he was fumbling
with his pajama buttons. He was trying to unbutton his shirt, he was reflexively allowing me the privilege of examining
him, giving me permission. I tell you, I did not decline the gift. I percussed, I palpated, I
listened to his heart, his lungs.

I feel connected to the timeless message the physician conveys, the same message the
horse and buggy doctor, riding out to towns on the
western edge of Lake Ontario 150, 200 years ago, conveyed to his or her
patients of that era, when there was so little to offer. The message is that beyond the data, beyond the evidence or lack of evidence, beyond the medicines that
stop working, here I am and no matter what, I care,
I will be there with you through thick and thin,
I will not stop coming, I will show up. Graduates, we live in a world
that's rapidly changing. If you trace your family roots to Native Americans of this region or perhaps to settlers
from England, or Scotland, from three or four or
five generations ago, imagine the changes that
your family has witnessed. The development of Upper Canada, the founding of this
great city of Hamilton, the Great Western Railway,
and the Niagara Bridge that transformed this town, the founding of this university in 1887.

The blooming years of steel and commerce. Ladies and gentlemen, in
the grand sweep of time, that history is almost a flatline compared to the vertical
exponential logarithmic growth that we've seen in the last
20 years in the digital age. It's staggering. Artificial intelligence, AI,
will transform our lives. It will take away or change
many of our old occupations as it's already doing in
your shopping experience, in policing communities,
in facial recognition, in public health, in population science. If you're an alarmist, you're
gonna worry about this.

Stephen Hawking said in an interview that artificial intelligence
could end the human race. I live in Silicon Valley, I'm very close to groups like DeepMind, and let me tell you, what they're up to has the potential for
great, great disruption. We'll be forced to
reconsider everything we do and what it is we offer to the world. But here's the good news. AI, or artificial intelligence, will still very much need you. I find it reassuring, although IBM's Deep Blue
computer beat Garry Kasparov. The fact is that any grand
master, with an ordinary laptop chess program such as you
have on your computer, can beat Deep Blue or
Watson paired up like that. The combination of human beings with creative, original ideas combined with artificial intelligence is going to lead to the
most exciting things, more things that we can ever imagine. And here's what's not going to change, is the need for human beings
to care for each other. We could, if you think about it, we could care for little
infants using robots, and we actually have
diapers in Silicon Valley that will signal your iPhone
when they're wet, you know? We don't really need parents, we could mechanically do all these things, but we would never dream of that because we know children,
babies need our nurturing.

We need the joy of holding them in and the feedback that that gives us. We need that as much as they need it. Such love and such nurturing
is not confined to babies. We all need it in every walk of life, but especially in the care of the sick. I'm hoping that in my field, artificial intelligence will free us from some of the drudgery
of medical record keeping and allow us to fulfill
the Samaritan function of being a physician, to
minister to those who suffer. So, graduates, here's my advice today. Embrace the rituals of your
life, be conscious of them. Even as you, more than me,
go out and create and empower the new artificial intelligence
revolution that's coming.

Be in charge and be cognizant of those human values and rituals
that you want to preserve. Remember that fluttering
hand of the dying patient, I remember it every single day. What you can do that no one else can, no machine on Earth can, is
you can care, you can love, you can preserve the rituals
that showcase these things. And you can show up. Always show up. Godspeed on your journey. (all applauding) – Dr. Verghese, thank you
very much for those comments. We're just so delighted to have you now as part of the McMaster family. Dr. Verghese represents the best of what the medical
profession has to offer. But it's more than that. It is thoughtfulness, it's
the breath of knowledge, it's the breath of understanding
that just leaves me in awe and I know many of my colleagues. And I think he represents what
all of us would like to be. And he's right, you probably
won't remember his speech. But I hope that when you
hear the word ritual, somewhere in the back of
your mind that will trigger, I know something about that,
I remember this message.

And that's probably the most we can expect out of a convocation and I
thank Dr. Verghese enormously for providing that, thank you. (all applauding) – Dr. Patrick Deane will now come forward to present the graduands to our Chancellor for admission to their degrees. – Will the graduands please stand? Madam Chancellor, on behalf
of McMaster University Senate, I present to you these
candidates in order that you may confer the appropriate degrees upon them. And I bear witness that they
are worthy and suitable.

May I also request that you
confer the appropriate degrees in absentia upon all those
candidates who have successfully completed the required course of study but who are not present. – Graduands, by my authority and that of the McMaster Senate, I have the great pleasure to
admit those before me today and those in absentia to
their individual degrees in McMaster University with all
of the rights and privileges pertaining to those degrees. My sincere congratulations to you all. (all applauding) Please be seated. – Graduates, I now ask each
of you to join me on stage so that the Chancellor
and I may welcome you to the McMaster community of scholars. (slow piano music) – Ladies and gentlemen. So that each graduate's name may be heard, it would be appreciated if during the presentation
of the graduands you would hold your collective applause to the end of each degree
category, thank you. Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the
degree Doctor of Philosophy. Ryan Nicholas Buensuceso. Justin Kale. Josie Libertucci. Xiaodan Ni. Mark Gary Embrett. Dhuha Al-Sajee. Iqbal Haider Jaffer. Ran Ni. Colleen Margaret Ruth Shortt.

George William James Wright. Neha Dewan. (all applauding) Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of
the degree Master of Science. Morad Al-Mashalleh. Mysoon Alam. Sarah Abdullah Alrumaim. Juan Arango Gil. Emmanuel Everett. Deepu Kakuzhyil. Syed Ibrahim Khursheed. Mark Kinach. Tina Valdrez. Sheena Guglani. Meha Bhatt. Karla Lancaster. – [Man] Brandi Lynne Meeks. Kelsey Erin Mills. Jill Christina Richmond. Michael Tsang. Matthew Stefan Badin. Laura Sydney Elizabeth Calvert. Jagmanpreet Dang. – [Catherine] Jennifer Li. Christine Sherhart. Dawn Elizabeth Turner. Kaitlin Lois Turner. (all applauding) Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the degree Master of Public Health. David D'Andre Absalom. Safa Al-Khateeb. Saamiyah Ali-Mohammed. Zuhoor Mubarak Alqahtani. Bria Barton. Timothy Harold Duivesteyn. Jessica Firman. Kendra Habing. Mariam Soliman Asaad Kamel. Danielle Kasperavicius. Kamran Khani. – [Woman] Yes, Kamran! That's my brother! (all laughing) – [Catherine] Adam Ladak.

Jessica Natasha Langevin. Deepika Delilah Lobo. Sandya Menon. Meloja Satkunam. Ryan Van Meer. Lacey Jeanette VanEvery. (all applauding) – Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of
the degree Doctor of Medicine. Neha Arora. Katelyn Elizabeth Baker. Heather Maye Spence Bannerman. Eli Xavier Bator. (audience laughing) Emily Beatrice Baxter. Daniel Aaron Bayard. (people cheering) Suraya Khadija Bhabha. Jennifer Noele Pauline Bisson. (people cheering and clapping) Kristin Ann Boekestein. Erin Taylor Budd. Carley Anne Campbell. Kallirroi Laiya Carayannopoulos.

(people cheering) Louise Frances Cassidy. Alison Margaret Rebecca Castle. Erdit Celo. Manraj Chahal. Amar Chakraborty. Rebecca Megan Chang. Jasreen Cheema. Karen Chen. Pardh Chivukula. Sam Chorlton. Laura Chu. Brianne Clouthier. Norah Rita Irene Cockburn. Celeste Alicia Frances Collins. (people cheering) Ellery Tristan Cunan. (people clapping) Melissa Cunningham. Jessica Lynne Cuppage. – [Man] That's my sister! (audience laughing) – [Rob] Benedict Darren. Hannah Sarah Davis. Michael John Davison. Alexandra DeJong. Emily Paige Dewhurst. Djurdja Djordjevic. (people cheering) Dylan Alexander Ehman. Sepehr Ekhtiari. (woman cheering) Heather Mary-Kathleen Evans. Darin Kyle Evoy. Melanie Kathleen Fortune. Caylea Foster. Grace Franchetto. Shane Reid Freeman. Sarah Anne Gage. Shreyas Harshad Gandhi. Kyle Goldberger. Ankur Goswami. Maryan Samuel Graiss. – [Man] That's my sister, let's go, baby! (audience laughing) – [Rob] Michael Jordan Grundland. Husayn Gulamhusein. Erik Michael Hamel. Shabnam Hamidi. Sarah-Anne Elizabeth Hanik. – [Man] Sarah! – [Rob] Edwin Ho. Petra Hroch. Christopher James Humphreys. Nicole Jedrzejko. Gabriel Kiruban Jeyasingham. Kate Elizabeth Jolley. Andrew Ashton Kamphuis. Jeffrey Kay. Jennifer Kays Sommer. Yasmin Elizabeth Kazemi. (woman cheering) Olga Kciuk. Joanne Esther Kearon. Joanne Kim. Marta Kisiel. (man cheering and clapping) Justin Jek-Kahn Koh. (women cheering) Pauline Kosalka. Michelle Kuang.

(people clapping) Ryann Stephanie Kwan. Cameron Jonathan Lam. Victor Christopher Lam Shin Cheung. Michael Larocque. Kaila Marie Lassaline. Andy Liu. Sherry Liu. Steven Long. Elizabeth Lovell. Clara Lu. Sabrina Caitlin Aimee Lue Tam. Christine Alanna MacCauley. Abby Catherine Maybee. Jeffrey McCarthy. Andrew Patrick McGuire. Laura Elizabeth McInnis. (audience laughing) Margaret Pearl McNee. Muzammil Memon. Antoinette Mihaylova. Alison Khetha Van Geest Mikelsons. Heather Irene Morris. Derek Matthew Moynes. Leen Naji. Sheena Nandalal. (women cheering) (baby coos)
(audience laughs) Laila Nasser. Tiffany Tin Wing Ng. (woman cheering) Alex Ng. (woman cheering and clapping) Colin Ngan.

Elizabeth Kathleen O'Reilly. Michaela Ondrejicka. – [Man] Guess who?
(clapping) – [Rob] Hetal Patel. – [Woman] Woo, you go, girl! – [Rob] Laura Meaghan Pellow. Alexandra Margaret O'Neil Pennell. (people cheering and clapping) Bethany Jane Philpott. Lucie Pivnick. Emma Elizabeth Pollard. Jenny Qian. Andrew L. Ramadeen. (woman cheering) Chase Travis Reaume. Rebecca Anne Rodin. Shakil Mohammad Salim. Carly Schenker. (woman cheering)
(baby crying) Shamini Selvakumar. Kristen Ann Marie Sestili. Saravannan Shaan. Jessica Shanahan. (woman cheering) (audience laughing) Falana Aziza Sheriff. Daniel Edwin Sidalak. (woman cheering and clapping) Brendan Lake Chandan Singh. Leigh Gabriele Skelley. Sorina Stef. Gaibrie Stephen. Tasha Stoltz. Nicholas Stone. Shira Strauss. Kristen Sullivan. Tyler Cameron Tabobondung. (woman cheering) Siavash Taheri-Shalmani. (woman cheering) Wei-She Julia Tai. – [Woman] Go Wei!
(clapping) – [Rob] Andrea Nicole Tesolin. (women cheering and clapping) Jenifer Truong. Calvin Tsui. Ryan Thomas Urban. Anthony Vu. Laura Emily Walmsley. William Jeffrey Warnica. Isuri Weerakkody. Sandra Westcott. Benjamin David Braun Wyman. Mengchen Xi. Vivian Jiaji Xia. Tim Xu. David Youssef. Catherine Mian Zhou.

(all applauding) – Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of Health Sciences Midwifery. Leah Kathryn Rose Barriage. Corine Anne Bryant. Samantha Johanna Carruthers. Kaitlynn Daniel. Sarah Jane Emma Fallis. Loraina Margaret Fitzsimmons. (man cheering) Chelsea Futers. – [Man] Chelser! – [Patricia] Brittany Carol Gumbert. Ashley Jagga. Jessica Anne Kaut. Kimberlee Kock. (women cheering) Monica McPherson. (people cheering and clapping) Sara Miron. Amanda Brook O'Gorman. Katrina Anne O'Neill. Juanita Peters. (man cheering) Andrea Ramirez Palma. Katryna Van Vliet. (people cheering and clapping) Daniela Vasconcellos Magalhaes. Sarah Margaret Wilson. (all applauding) – Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of Health Sciences Honours. Mohamed Adam. Ishan Aditya. Keon Aghigh. – [Woman] Woo, Keon! – [Stacey] Shobhit Ahden. Shehryar Ahmad. Sobia Ali. Syed Hussain Ali. Spandana Amarthaluru. Justina Assaad. Jacob Bailey. Sahil Dylan Bedi. Evangelos Benak.

Harsukh Benipal. Chaitanya Bhatt. Michelle Kathleen Biehl. Jessica Blackwood. Sama Boles. Lindsey April Carfrae. Godwin Hok Sum Chan. Nicole Chau. Wai-yin Ruth Chau. Allison Chen. – [Man] That's my sister! – [Stacey] Allison Jia Wei Chen. Frank Chen. Anran Cheng. Albert Choe. David Choo Chong. (people cheering) Kayli Culig. (people cheering)
(phone chiming) Justin Paolo David. Andrew Christian De Jong. Emily DeHaas. Arlinda Deng. Mimi Deng. Shirley Deng. Avrilynn Ding. Yule Duan. Lisa Rebecca Lynn Duivesteyn. Jason Fan. Cheng Wei Fang. Erin Fu. (woman cheering) Allison Gemmill. (man cheering) Sarah Giacobbo. Taylor Gillmore. Caroline Nabil Onsy Gobran. (people cheering) Saly Halawa. (people cheering) Julia Ursula Hanes. Verina Hanna.

– [Man] That's my sister! – [Stacey] Hanna Haponenko. (man cheering) Saarah Haque. Rithwik Hari Das. Ellen Shuning He. (woman cheering and clapping) Mark Heal. Joella Pui-Yan Ho. Ekaterina Ignatova. Zafrin Islam. Mikael Jagan. Vibeeshan Jegatheeswaran. Osmond Jian. Tanya Kakkar. (woman cheering and clapping) Victor Kang. Sawyer Karabelas-Pittman. Marta Karpinski. Savar Kaul. Mohammad Ali Khan. – [Man] That's my brother! – [Stacey] Zeinab Khawaja.

(people cheering) Christina Hee Weon Kim. Sugee Korale Liyanage. Daniela Kovacevic. Alex Koziarz. Anna Kurdina. Celia Kwan. Carol Mijung Kwon. Michelle Wing-Sze Kwong. Kimberley Lau. Sangjin Lee. Gavin Max Lifman. Ethan Lin. (woman cheering) Hsin Yen Liu. Jonsson Sihan Liu. Sarah Luciw. Angela Ma. (woman cheering) Saba Malik. Ramez Maximous. Justine Kate Mayne. Taylor Marie Mehta. Adam John Merlo. Janice Mok. Joyce Elizabeth Moore. (woman cheering) Cocoro Mori. Jared William Morris. (woman cheering) Kristen Nicole Munro. (woman cheering) Amber M. Murphy. (man cheering) Andrew Nashed. (people cheering) Corey Hayden Negin-Fryers. Alita Zhuo-Jie Ng. Charis Ng. Christine Le Nguyen. Jenny Nguyen. Nini Nguyen. Salmi Tahseen Noor. Emily Nowak. Yvgeniy Oparin. Erika Opingari. Kirill Pankov. (man cheering) Jeong Won Park. (woman cheering) Rex Park. Anuj Bharatkumar Patel. Payal Patel. Sureka Pavalagantharajah. Darian Lea Perruzza. – [Woman] Go Darian! That's my sister! – [Stacey] Dhillon Kamta Persaud. Monisha Rita Persaud. Jobanjit Phulka. Dilshan Ishara Pieris.

(women cheering) Nenad Pokrajac. Alyssa Posca. Madison Quirk. (woman cheering) Kenneth Rachwalski. Raheem Remtulla. Diane Ren. Tristan Robert Kenneth Richardson. (woman cheering) Ayesha Rizwan. (people cheering) Hannah Park Roche. (people cheering) Paul Rooprai. Lisa Ros-Choi. Meghan Anna Rothenbroker. Ryan J.R. Runciman. Nensi Melissa Ruzgar. Jaspreet Kaur Sanghera. Jenna Marie Schlorff. Stephanie Marie Schwindt. Ye Rin Seo. Nishwa Shah. (people cheering) Omar Mohammad Shaikh. Isabel Shamsudeen. Manraj Sharma. Mollie Sivaram. Daniel Son. Jaclyn Diane Spitzig. Archita Srivastava. Elaine Stirling. (people cheering and clapping) Crystal Xue Qi Su.

Celeste Elisabeth Suart. Tina Yaotian Tang. Maxwell Tran. (people cheering) Carmen Tu. Suman Kaur Virdee. Andrew Wan. Dominic Wang. Joanne Jou-Fang Wang. Yi Wang. Nafis Wazed. Tom Wei. Brenton Matthew Wong. (people cheering) Ruilin Wu. Yi Fan Yang. Tayler Young. (man cheering) Leza Youssef. (people clapping) Mark Zasowski. Leon Zhang. Yi Peng Zhang. Yutong Zhang. Zhao Yun Zhang. Eliya Zi Ying Zhao. Lexy Hui Ze Zhong. Haley Zubyk. (all applauding) Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of Health Sciences. Mei-Lyn Ding. Rhea Suliman. Shayna Taylor. (all applauding) – Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates
of the graduate diploma in Clinical Behavioural Sciences. Kimberly Ann Jones. Beata Sims. (all applauding) Madam Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduate of the diploma in Clinical Behavioural Sciences. Lee Albert Lyttle. (all applauding) – So please join me in
one more round of applause to all of the newest graduates
of the class of 2017. (all applauding)
(audience cheering) I would now like to
introduce Ms. Zeinab Khawaja, our graduate of the Bachelor
of Health Sciences Program who will be delivering
the Valedictory Address.

(all applauding) – Good afternoon, Madam Chancellor, distinguished guests, faculty,
family, and of course, friends from the class of 2017. I am nervous. (audience laughs) And honored to be addressing
you all today as valedictorian. In our last week of classes, I admit that I was so ready to
be done with being a student. I felt tired and overwhelmed and more than a little burnt out, which is a sentiment that I know is shared by many of my peers here today. But as I sat there at night class on that rainy Thursday evening, my last class here at McMaster, I was hit by a sudden wave
of sadness and finality. I came to Mac fresh off a
13-hour flight from Kuwait expecting to be challenged
academically and wow, I certainly was. We've all powered through group projects, and lab assignments, and
late nights at the library, and hopefully, we've
ended up stronger for it. We've put in the effort and the hard work to get to this point and
walk across this stage and that hard work will
continue to propel us forward in the future.

But, of course, there's a lot more to life than just academic and career success. And our time at McMaster
has not only satisfied our intellectual curiosity,
but it's also given us some of those intangible life skills that make us the people we are today. Moving forward we may never
remember what we learnt back in first year chemistry,
because I know that I don't.

But the learning that took
place beyond the classroom, the people who inspired and motivated us, and the conversations that expanded our
understanding of the world, these will stay with us. Over the course of my undergrad, I learnt the importance of
respecting different perspectives and I've come to appreciate that everyone has something
of value to contribute when it comes to collaboration. I have learnt to be
comfortable with uncertainty and knowing that I may never know exactly what life has in store for me. Some of you sitting here
might know what you want to do with the next few years of your life. Some of you might think you know. And still others might be
largely unsure as I am. And I just want to say
that all of this is okay. Ambitions, and goals, and
career paths can change. And opportunities can arise
almost as if out of nowhere and seizing them when they
do can lead to amazing things that you could never have planned for.

And I hope that we'll all be
open to that when that happens, even if it seems that
things are going well. And finally, I've learnt
that resiliency means knowing that it's okay
to not be okay sometimes, and that reaching out for
support is not a sign of weakness as I once thought it was, but instead, a sign of great internal
strength and courage. The support systems that I found here are what made Mac a home for
me 10,000 kilometers away from the place where I grew up. I have seen students who are
struggling silently as I was to just keep swimming through
a seemingly endless ocean of stressors and fears,
and more importantly, I've seen people come through all this, come together in touching shows
of support and solidarity. I have slowly allowed
myself to be vulnerable, to let people in, and
I have felt firsthand the profound difference it can make, to have someone simply listen and validate that what I am feeling is okay. Of course, the support systems at school aren't the only ones we all have, and so, I'd like to take this moment to thank our loved ones who are
here with us today in person or online, as well as
those who couldn't join us but are here in spirit.

Whether it's a hug or a FaceTime call after a difficult week,
or home-cooked meals and free laundry services when we visit, you've all helped us get
through these last few years and so, thank you for your
continued support and nurturing. Support is not a one-way street, however. It's more like an interconnected network that goes in all sorts of directions.

And just as people have been there for us, it's equally important for us to give back and to be there for our communities. We are the future researchers,
healthcare professionals, policy makers, entrepreneurs,
advocates and leaders. So it's up to us now to
take what we've learnt here and use it to push
boundaries and affect change. The last 12 months, they've
seen a lot of challenges in the world around us,
as well as closer to home. And as Faculty of Health
Sciences graduates, we have an obligation to be
there for our communities. I'm truly excited to see what
the future of health holds knowing what we are all
capable of contributing. My time at Mac has been
challenging and transformative in ways that I could never have imagined when I first got off that 13-hour flight. We've all found our own way
through this tumultuous journey so now, let's come
together and enjoy this day and celebrate everything we
have and are going to achieve.


To the class of 2017, I wish
you the very best of luck with wherever life takes you next. Be kind to yourself and make good choices. Thank you. (all applauding)
(audience cheering) – Thank you, Zeinab. May I now call upon our
President, Dr. Patrick Deane, who will present the
Distinguished University Professor and the President's Awards. – From time to time, the
Senate of McMaster University awards the title of Distinguished
University Professor to exceptional members of
faculty whose contributions in scholarship and education
are truly outstanding. Madam Chancellor, today,
on behalf of the Senate of McMaster University, I
have the honor to present McMaster's newest Distinguished
University Professor, Dr. John Kelton. (all applauding) Dr. Kelton is a professor
in the departments of medicine and pathology
and molecular medicine in the Michael G.

School of Medicine. He is also the Executive Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Initiative for Innovation in Healthcare. His groundbreaking research in hematology has changed clinical practice and helped millions of patients worldwide. His work on a common disorder in pregnancy led to a dramatic reduction in unnecessary caesarian section births, while his research output has
also included breakthroughs in preventing and treating an allergic reaction to
the blood thinner Heparin. Dr. Kelton has authored three
books, 90 book chapters, and nearly 300 peer-reviewed articles, including 16 in the New
England Journal of Medicine. In medical education and research, Dr. Kelton is an administrative
leader with few peers. He has, for example, chaired the Council of
Ontario Faculties of Medicine, served on the executive committee of Hamilton Health Sciences, and been President of the
Canadian Hematology Society. His signature contributions,
however, were the results of his three terms as
Dean and Vice-President of McMaster's Faculty of Health Sciences. He oversaw the doubling of
the faculty's enrollment, the creation of regional
campuses in Waterloo and Niagara, the addition of clinical campuses in Brantford and Burlington, the development of the David
Braley Health Sciences Centre, the inception of a new selection process for medical students, a system
now employed across Canada, and historic investments in research.

These milestones elevated the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine to the top of Canadian
medical school rankings and into the top 15 in the worldwide ranking
of health programs. A member of the Order of Canada, Dr. Kelton is also a fellow of
the Royal Society of Canada, of the Canadian Academy
of Health Sciences, and of the Royal College of Physicians. He has received the Prix
Galien Research Award, a Queen Elizabeth II
Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Gold Medal in Medicine from the Royal College of
Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the Ronald Christie Award
for outstanding contributions to medical education leadership. He's one of the few Canadians to receive the American Association of
Blood Banks Emily Cooley Award, and the Karl Landsteiner
Award from the German Society of Transfusion Medicine
and Immunohematology.

His many other honors include being named the Canada Research Chair
in Transfusion Medicine, and being selected by his peers as one of Canada's best doctors. Congratulations, Dr. Kelton. (all applauding) (speech drowned by applause) As the co-founder and current Director of the first children's
university program in Canada, the McMaster Children
and Youth University, or MCYU in the City, Dr. Sandeep
Raha has worked extensively with a dedicated team of
volunteers to develop innovative educational platforms that
use two delivery modules. Children and their parents
from the greater Hamilton area are invited to attend lectures
presented by McMaster faculty on a topic related to their discipline. The community can also
experience interactive workshops presented by MCYU trained McMaster graduate and undergraduate
students in their neighborhoods. The combination of these two formats has advanced the learning
experience for the community and also for students at McMaster.

Over the past six years,
the MCYU in the City program has enhanced community
partnerships and learning forums and is currently deployed
in public libraries, community centers, and public
schools throughout Hamilton. Dr. Raha's passion for
multidisciplinary teaching is also reflected in the
innovative training program he helped to design and implement, which provides McMaster
students with opportunities to gain working knowledge
of curriculum design, community engagement,
and project management, while refining their skills
through practical experience in the community.

As one McMaster student who participated in the MCYU in the City program
explains, this is a quote, "Dr. Raha's innovative
program bridges the gap "between the University and
the wider Hamilton community "and demystifies class-based assumptions "by empowering and
academically preparing youth, "especially those at a
socio-economic disadvantage "to pursue post-secondary education." His enthusiastic dedication
and ability to motivate others makes Dr.

Sandeep Raha an
exemplary academic leader at McMaster University and
a highly deserving recipient of 2017 President's Award
for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching & Learning. Congratulations, Dr. Raha. (all applauding) (speech drowned by applause) I'll turn now to the recipients of the President's Award of Excellence
in Student Leadership, and I'd be grateful if Saly
Halawa would come forward. Saly Halawa completed the Bachelor of Health Sciences program with a minor in French
and has already earned a number of awards for her exceptional
extracurricular leadership. The Alec John Royston Macmillan
Memorial Contribution Award, the MSU Merit Scholarship, and the Albert Lager Prize
for Student Initiative. Saly has served as a first responder with the emergency first-response team, has taught first-aid, and was
a Wellness Outreach volunteer with the Student Wellness Centre.

In her graduating year, she coordinated a national competition for emergency responders and
is the Outreach coordinator for the McMaster French Club. Saly helped first year students
adjust to university life through her services as
community advisor at McKay Hall and as a Leadership Developer for the Horizons Leadership Conference. In furtherance of her efforts
to provide direct support to her fellow students, she
mentored international students and worked as a listener
with the Peer Support Line. She was also the interfaith coordinator for the MSU's Diversity Services and conducted pedagogical research through McMaster's Paul
R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation
and Excellence in Teaching. As the sponsorship coordinator
for McMaster Relay for Life, she helped raise more than
$74,000 for cancer research. Unbelievably, a busy off
campus volunteer as well, Saly has volunteered with
organizations including Good Shepherd Centre,
Ronald McDonald House, Queen Victoria Elementary
School, and Habitat for Humanity. Congratulations, Saly. (all applauding)
(speech drowned by applause) And turning to another recipient to the President's Award of
Excellence in Student Leadership, would Elaine Stirling please come up? (audience applauding) Elaine Stirling, who has
just completed McMaster's renowned Bachelor of
Health Sciences program, did outstanding work on
behalf of her fellow students during her time at the University.

A peer tutor for the group process and communication skills course, Elaine also helped to create
a safer, more inclusive campus through her work as Coordinator of the McMaster Student Union Women
and Gender Equity Network. Elaine served as Co-Convener
of the Violence Against Women Gender Based Violence Working Group of the President's Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive
Community, or PACBIC. And she played an important
role in the process that led to the development and implementation of McMaster's Sexual
Violence Response Protocol. She has even been a first responder to reports of sexual assault, providing personal support to survivors.

Elaine worked with the
McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance on an art installation that highlighted the stories of missing and murdered indigenous women. She has also been a key
bridge connecting McMaster to the broader Hamilton community on the issues that mean the
most to her through her work with the Sexual Assault
Center of Hamilton and Area, or SACHA, on projects such as
the Take Back the Night march. Congratulations, Elaine. (all applauding)
(audience cheering) (speech drowned by applause) – This is so fancy. Oh, my goodness, this is so fancy. – Absolutely fantastic.
– Thank you. – May I offer my own
congratulations to John, Sandeep, Saly, and Elaine. I would now like to
introduce Dr. Paul O'Byrne, Dean and Vice-President Health Sciences, who will deliver the
Health Sciences Address. – Madam Chancellor, President
Deane, Dr. Verghese, guests, family, but most importantly, graduates of McMaster Faculty
of Health Sciences 2017, congratulations and thank you
for allowing me the privilege of saying a few words this afternoon. In the early morning
of February 28th, 1953, a young scientist working
at Cambridge University woke up with a possible solution to a problem he had been
struggling with for many weeks.

He rushed to his laboratory
and began to build a model incorporating the solution
that he had woken with. His name was James Watson
and he had solved the issue of how bases were arranged in pairs, the final piece of the puzzle that allowed Watson and his
collaborator Francis Crick, working with research provided by Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin to describe the double
helix structure of DNA. At lunchtime, on the same
day, at the Eagle Pub, not far from Cambridge University, the two men went to
celebrate and as James Watson would later tell the story,
just steps into the crowded pub, Francis Crick announced loudly, "We have discovered the secret of life." Now, it's impossible to imagine that any of the pint drinking occupants of the Eagle Pub that day
recognized that they were present for the birth of the age
of genetics and genomics.

Eight weeks later, however,
when Watson and Crick published their insights in the journal Nature, scientists around the
world knew immediately that biology and medicine
had changed forever. Now, I know this will be hard
for many of you to believe, but I was alive on February 28th, 1953. And that means I've lived through the entire age of genetics. I have watched as we have used
genetics to clone animals, engineer food, exonerate the innocent, and to convict the guilty. We live in a world where
reanimating dinosaurs seems less and less like
science fiction every day. In health sciences, genetics
has allowed us to produce synthetic insulin, conduct
prenatal screening, understand the foundations of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, and develop an array of
treatments and therapies. Now, when I was medical student, a trainee in Dublin, Ireland,
I wanted to be a pediatrician. I worked on a pediatric
cancer ward for three months, where acute childhood leukemia
was almost universally fatal. If I were beginning my
medical career today and experienced that same rotation, my career path could very well
have kept me in pediatrics, with such an effect has science had in the mortality rates
of that dreadful disease.

As professionals working
in health sciences, we have access to extraordinary tools. The pace of technological innovation has accelerated exponentially since 1953 and there's no sign that
this is slowing down. We will always have new technologies and for that we should be grateful. Advances in diagnostic
imaging, in drug development, in medical devices, in
transplantation, the list goes on. Technology is vitally important
to so much of medical care in the 21st century. I would, however, ask you not to forget the two most brilliantly
sophisticated and without doubt most useful pieces of technology that you will ever use in healthcare. These are you eyes and your ears. In the 19th century, Canada's
greatest ever physician, Sir William Osler, grew
up in Dundas, Ontario within walking distance from the land that would later
become McMaster's campus. He revolutionized medical
education by taking students out of the lecture halls and
placing them, in his words, on the wards. He was famous for wanting
to teach at the bedside and he most certainly
would have felt at home in McMaster University's
Faculty of Health Sciences.

There is a famous series of
four photographs of Osler taken at the patient's bedside. The images illustrate what he called the four points of a
medical student's compass. Inspection, Palpation,
Percussion, and Auscultation. And I want to focus, just for a moment, on that word auscultation, which is derived from the
Latin word auscultare, which means to hear with attention. This is the act of listening. Every great clinician, every
wonderfully effective nurse that I have ever had
the privilege of knowing has been superbly skilled
at the act of listening. Despite our technological achievements and despite the innovations still to come, the greatest gift we
can give to our patients as providers of healthcare
is the gift of listening. No matter how powerful or sophisticated the tools of investigation,
almost all diagnosis will be made by listening
to patients' histories.

We must listen to our patients
in order to understand them, to be compassionate to them,
and to involve them effectively in being stewards of their own healthcare. The announcement of the age of genetics began at the Eagle Pub, February 1953, and continues to astound and
amaze with its innovations and understanding of the human condition. Genetics and other
fields will revolutionize your chosen professions, as
they have revolutionized mine.

The art and the discipline
of listening, however, is timeless and constant. And as graduates of McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences,
you have developed the skills that will allow you to
thrive in this timeless age. By arriving at convocation today, you have made your families
and your McMaster family deeply proud, we are
proud that such talented and such gifted individuals are graduates of McMaster University's
Faculty of Health Sciences. And we shall be proud of your
many successes in the future. Thank you very much, indeed.

(all applauding) – Thank you, Paul. May I now introduce Don Bridgman, President of the McMaster
Alumni Association. Don will deliver the
Alumni Association Address. – Chancellor Labarge, President
Deane, McMaster faculty, fellow alumni, honored
guests, and especially, members of the McMaster class of 2017. The first time we did
this, it was 123 years ago, and there were only 16 of you. The events of commencement, as
convocation was called then, were a little different
from today's ceremony.

In 1894, McMaster's first
convocation included a sermon, the reading of the graduate thesis. Yes, they read them aloud word for word. (audience exclaiming) That would have taken a
little time today, I think. And, wait for it, the conferring
of 60 honorary degrees. The black graduation gowns
back then were made of alpaca and lined with white
satinette for the arts grads, and lavender for the
graduates from theology. One of the graduates
wearing alpaca that day was a young woman named Elizabeth Wells. She later published a
description of the ceremony in Canadian Magazine and
in that article she wrote of McMaster's first convocation, the enthusiasm shown by the students who sat massed in the
body of the large assembly showed plainly that they were filled with a spirit of loyalty
to the University.

I'm not sure if 16 people in
alpaca gowns counts as a mass, but the feelings of enthusiasm and pride were likely valid observations. I hope that you have
similar feelings today. I know I did when I graduated. Today our University is very
different from the McMaster Elizabeth Wells knew 123 years ago. And our institutional
history and credentials are far more robust today. I hope that your McMaster
has earned your enthusiasm and loyalty through its
service, excellence, leadership, and accomplishment. Just as we have worked hard
to earn our pride in you, as you have worked hard
to earn our pride in you and our loyalty to you, as
you become the newest members of the Mac alumni family.

The McMaster Alumni Association's goal is to take your connection to McMaster beyond the feelings
that are so strong today and help make it into a lifelong
connection of substance. In your lives as alumni, the association will work
to keep you connected. You'll receive the McMaster
Times Alumni Magazine, the e-newsletter Maroon Mail, and you can be part of the
association's communities on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,
LinkedIn, and Instagram. As grads, you can sample
activities and opportunities from our Mac10 program, a
series of events and services including social activities,
career assistance, and online and in-person networking. We've also added a mentoring
program that gives you access to the wisdom of hundreds
of fellow Mac grads, as well as the opportunity
to share your wisdom with current students through
a searchable database.

Throughout your life,
you can take advantage of value added services like
home, auto, life insurance, mortgages, credit cards,
and travel services. You can also join your fellow alumni at one of the hundreds of
events we organize annually here in Hamilton and also across Canada, and actually, also around the world. Take a few moments after the
ceremony to complete our, quote, How Maroon Are You?
quiz noted on the card you found on your seat
today to have a little fun reflecting on your time at McMaster. It will lead you to, where you can learn more
about being a member of the Alumni Association
and what it can do for you. All you really need to know for now is that McMaster Alumni
Association and Mac alumni family can be part of your McMaster
experience in a big way or in a small way, at any time you'd like. When you're ready, the McMaster Alumni
Association will be, too. So to the class of 2017, I offer my most sincere congratulations on your academic accomplishments
and on your graduation.

You should be extremely proud
of your accomplishments, I know I'm proud of what you've done. Congratulations and welcome. (all applauding) – Thank you, Don. I now invite Dr. Deane back to the podium to deliver the President's Address. – Madam Chancellor, Dr. Verghese, distinguished guests and
colleagues, and graduates. You've had quite a lot of me today and I'm afraid there's a little bit more and then you'll be free to go, in an orderly fashion, I would stress. (audience laughing) No stampeding to the door. This is a wonderful occasion
at the end of what has been, in many ways, a very trying week. I think in many people's minds,
thoughts about what happened in Britain, in Manchester,
several days ago, linger. They linger for me particularly when I think about the
tragedy of wasted youth, that young people with great promise should have found their
lives brought to an end in such an awful way, it's an
emblem of the great difficulty in our world in which young people confront a very uncongenial world and attempt to make
something better out of it.

I wanted to talk, as it's
my fortunate privilege at these events, too, a
little bit, before you go, about that whole issue, about youth and the obligations and promises of it. Many of you know that Canada's
mandatory long-form census was restored approximately 18 months ago. At the time, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the honorable Navdeep Bains,
asserted that Canadians were, these were his words,
"Reclaiming their right "to accurate and reliable information, "on the basis of which they will be able "to make sound decisions "about their personal and
our national futures." Then, last August, with the 2016 census
of population complete, Canada's chief statistician
Wayne Smith pronounced it the best census ever with an
overall response rate of 98.4%. This is a nation driven to
evidence-based decision making. A few weeks ago, at the start of May, Statistics Canada released
a second series of data derived from the census, this time bearing on the age and sex of
the Canadian population. And the report made big news, many of you will have noted that. And the reason for this was what the 2016 census had revealed, namely that Canada has
in the last few years undergone a very significant
generational shift.

Here's a quote from the StatsCan report, as a result of the rapid
increase in the number of people 65 years of age and older since 2011, 2016 marked the first time
that the census enumerated more seniors at 5.9 million than children 14 years of age
and younger at 5.8 million. What does this mean? One thing it tells us is
that the Canadian population is aging, not that we
didn't already know that in the crude sense, of course. But the census story is all
about changing proportions. For the first time since
Confederation in 1867, the seniors' share of the population now exceeds the children's share. And the group in-between,
the group into which I think all of you fall,
15 to 64-year-olds, is shrinking as a proportion
of the total population. I'm an English professor,
so, I know I have a right to this kind of information,
but to be frank, I never know quite what to do with it. The StatsCan report tells
me that such knowledge, here's a quote from StatsCan again, will be especially helpful
for adapting social programs for children, adults, and seniors to the new demographic reality.

But I wonder about that. Undoubtedly, it will help
us identify and understand the new demographic reality. But what it will mean
to adapt to that reality is much more than a statistical question. Implicit in the phrase demographic reality is an assumption that certain consequences must inevitably follow
this generational shift. For example, that funding for
health and social programs will now move proportionately to favor the aging and the elderly, even as the working
population that must pay for those programs is shrinking. That may be logical and providing proper care to the elderly, no matter how numerous they are, should be a non-negotiable requirement in a civilized nation.

But there are nevertheless
vitally important questions we must still ask about the
condition of and prospects for the younger generation in this scenario. Your generation, in short. But these are especially important
questions to ask in 2017, as Canada marks 150 years as a nation. Anniversaries like this
provoke retrospection. Of course, they also sometimes
provide an opportunity for jingoism and mindless
patriotic fervor. And I dare say we'll see
quite a bit of that in Canada when July the 1st rolls around. But so far, this country has
taken note of its special year in a characteristic fairly
muted fashion, recognizing, especially on University campuses, that while there is much to
celebrate in our history, there is also much about which we should be thoughtful and critical.

Our sesquicentennial is also an occasion to look into the future,
imagining what Canada will become in the next 50 or 100 years. And it is in that context that I find the 2016 census
results so thought provoking. We have been told that a far
reaching and unprecedented generational shift is happening right now, just as we're running
up the anniversary flag. And interestingly, it is
a shift that sends us back to our last big national
event, the centennial in 1967. And it is interesting because that year coincided with another very significant and related generational shift. The middle of the '60s
is generally understood to be the end point of the baby boom, the population surge which began in 1946 after the end of the second World War, and it's the aging
members of that generation whose entry into the ranks of
seniors of the last few years have given rise to the demographic changes of the 2016 census recently revealed.

I am a baby boomer and
it was my generation that seemed so
incomprehensible to our parents that a special term had to be coined to describe the phenomenon. This was a phrase I hope some of you know, the generation gap. And one experienced the
generation gap as significant and sometimes profound
differences of opinion about things trivial and things grave, about music, politics, personal values, and a host of other topics. Families like my own became
cultural battlegrounds. I remember my father,
inexplicably to me at least, being plunged into a red-faced fury when he discovered in my older
brother's clothing drawer a pair of blue jeans with
an extravagant floral design and a shirt with, of all things, this had him sputtering
with anger, puffed sleeves. So I think you all know
enough about '60s fashion to be able to picture this abomination.

(audience laughing) Now, my own differences with
my parents were less sartorial than they were political in nature. But as I have reflected on those times, I've come to understand
that those two categories of resistance on the part of my generation were not really separable to a degree not seen since in the West. How or indeed whether
one clothed one's body was contested terrain
between the generations? It was a language through which other sometimes deeply divergent
views expressed themselves. A generation gap was a term
invented by sociologists building on the Theory of Generations developed by Karl Mannheim in the 1920s.

For Mannheim, a generation was
not simply a cohort of people born and achieving maturity
between specified years. It was such a cohort, for sure, but it was also one upon which certain major historical events
had registered an impact. A generation was, in other words, shaped by its particular
historical experience. Mine was, for example,
post-war and post-Hiroshima, but definitely not post-nuclear, as we lived in daily apprehension
of a nuclear apocalypse. While I'm reminiscing, my
wife remembers that as a child in school, she was trained
to climb under her desk and cover her head in
anticipation of an atomic blast.

It would be indeed surprising if such practices had not
left an indelible mark on the generation for which
they were routine and normal. So while the 2016
Canadian population census seems to confirm that we are in the midst of a decisive generational shift, it is obviously far too early to speculate on the qualitative
dimensions of whatever gap might open up between
your generation and mine. Indeed it is entirely
possible notwithstanding Mannheim's implication that some sort of generational consciousness
must inevitably emerge.

It's entirely possible that
dislocation and discontinuity will not define the ways in
which we relate to each other. This is to some extent within our control. There will certainly be
economic and other consequences of the aging of the Canadian population. And today, as I speak to an
auditorium full of graduates from the Faculty of Health Sciences, I'm acutely conscious of
some of them, most obviously of that increasing strain
on the healthcare system as seniors come to outnumber children and the active wealth
producing workforce shrinks. Looking into the future, as one does on occasions such as this, and as our nation will do on July the 1st, it is obvious that significant
challenges lie ahead as the torch passes from
one generation to the next. But I am profoundly
hopeful about the future because of my faith in all of you. The well known
anthropologist Margaret Mead published in 1970 a very serious study of intergenerational
relations, it was called Culture and Commitment: A
Study of the Generation Gap, in which she beautifully
captured the service which every new generation
performs for its society and for humanity at large.

The young, she wrote, are free
to act on their initiative and can lead their elders in
the direction of the unknown. The young must ask the questions that we would never think to ask and through creativity,
curiosity, and innovativeness find answers that their
elders cannot imagine. I have worked in universities
for more than 40 years and have always indeed
increasingly been invigorated by the way in which students have thought to challenge received wisdom and to advance the human
intellectual and social project.

If there was ever a gap between us, and I suppose following Mannheim
that there must always be at least some kind of
generational discontinuities, if there was ever a gap between us, I have strained to listen for your voices on the other side of it, to learn from what you have had to say and from what you have
done and wanted to do. Margaret Mead felt that while
the young should be free to act on their initiative,
they also needed somehow to reestablish trust with
their elders, as she said, so that the elders will be
permitted to work with them on the answers.

According to that vision of
generational shift, then, your future is a project
on which we collaborate, my generation providing what
knowledge and wisdom we can, but depending on you to surpass us in making this a brighter world. I haven't dwelt on
challenges you will face, except of course, the
looming healthcare problem to which I alluded, and I haven't talked more broadly about the role of my generation in creating some of those
obstacles you will face, 'cause this is meant to
be an upbeat occasion and those things are banned.
(audience laughs) But if you need to trust us in order to achieve
the solutions you seek, we need to admit our
failings and shortcomings and trusts to your energy,
creativity, and positive values.

I became an educator four decades ago not just for something to do, but for something I wanted to see created. A better, more just society. The well-being of people and
the communities they comprise has been my preoccupation. And unlike many of my
peers, I do not believe that my generation was
unique in its idealism, altruism, or its social conscience. I know from working with many of you that those three things are
as much, if not more alive amongst you than they ever
were amongst my peers. And that is its own
way a bit of a miracle, given the state of the world
that we're in the process of handing over to you. Leave this room assured that
we delight in your success, that we are in awe of your talent, and we are beyond excited to
see where you will all take us. Good luck to you all. (all applauding) – Congratulations to the class of 2017. As a fellow McMaster alumna,
I'm looking forward to seeing where you all go from here. I'm going to just build for a moment, since everybody seems
to be talking about age because 50 years ago today,
or not today, this summer, I sat where you're sitting today, and I can tell you I can't tell
you who the Chancellor was, I don't know who the President
was, and I don't even know if we had an honorary degree recipient.

But I remember the ritual and I remember particularly
the pride my parents had of my standing there
and receiving my degree. And I hope that all of you got
a chance to share that today. But the other thing is
is looking back on it and it touches a bit about what Dr. Deane, President Deane said,
is what I remember most and my learning, greatest
learning from my time at McMaster, was the importance of curiosity. It was with curiosity I
got through university, but it was curiosity that has
allowed me to grow and learn throughout the years. And think of it, your
asking all the time is why, why does somebody think like this? Why does this happen? What causes this? And from that, you learn. And you gravitate through society that way and maintaining that curiosity is what really does allow personal growth. It's very easy to fall into
your own comfortable bubble. But it's not good for
society, and in the long run, it's not good for you. And when you take curiosity
and you combine it with those who are
lucky enough to have it, which is creativity and innovation, you see it reflected in the kind of people who got awards here today
and it is wonderful to see.

And there are many
examples of it in society, in the University, and it
is something to strive for, but I come back, the basis is, is keep yourself curious all your life. And Dr. Verghese, congratulations
on your accomplishments and showing us just what can be done when you put your mind to it. And Dr. Deane has given us, as usual, a fair amount to think about, about how we deal going forward, as Dr. O'Byrne says, it's
a very fast moving society and we have a lot to do,
and I look at what happened, if you want to take in the last 50 years, knowing that the speed of change for you will be so much greater than
anything any of us expected. We know we're turning out
the best graduates, right? And you people are really our
pride and joy and our future. And so, I want to wish you
best of luck in everything. Now, I have a couple of
housekeeping items to tell you about before we close. Flowers that have been
delivered for graduates will be available at the
coat check in the main lobby.

I would ask that you remain
standing at your seats until the academic
procession and the graduates have left the hall. Finally, please join now in the singing of our national anthem. After the singing of the anthem, this convocation stands adjourned. ♫ O Canada ♫ Our home and native land ♫ True patriot love ♫ In all thy sons command ♫ With glowing hearts ♫ We see thee rise ♫ The True North strong and free ♫ From far and wide ♫ O Canada, we stand on guard for thee ♫ God keep our land ♫ Glorious and free ♫ O Canada, we stand on guard for thee ♫ O Canada, we stand on guard for thee (all applauding) (classical piano music).

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