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Selkirk College Valedictorians Set for Class of 2019 Send-Off

A student in the School of Health & Human Services, Emma Cuell is one of two Class of 2019 valedictorians for Selkirk College. The annual Convocation ceremony takes place at the Castlegar Campus on April 30.

The post-secondary journey is about changing lives through education and at the end of April, those on the cusp of a bright future will gather on the Castlegar Campus to celebrate Selkirk College Convocation 2019.

The annual ceremony takes place on April 30 where almost 1,000 students will be eligible to graduate from a variety of Selkirk College programs based out of different campuses across the region. It will be the 52nd time the college has held the spring ceremony to hand out certificates, diplomas and degrees to those ready to take the next step in their lives

“For many people, Selkirk College is a place where you come to figure it out,” says Patrick Zubick, one of two Class of 2019 valedictorians. “The instructors care so much about what they are teaching, but they care just as much about the person who is learning. They can connect with people at where they are in their lives and with their learning, and they help push you in the direction that you need to go.”

This year’s convocation is being split into two different ceremonies. Zubick and his fellow graduating students in the School of University Arts & Sciences will take a walk across the stage in the morning ceremony that also includes the School of Business, School of Environment & Geomatics, Selkirk International, and School of Academic Upgrading & Development. The afternoon ceremony will include the School of the Arts, School of Hospitality & Tourism, School of Industry & Trades Training, and School of Health & Human Services.

Emma Cuell will represent the Class of 2019 as valedictorian in the afternoon ceremony. Set to graduate with a two-year Human Services Diploma specializing in Child & Youth Care, the 22-year-old is excited to mark the milestone with her peers. 

“Before I came to Selkirk College, I thought post-secondary was going to be more like the chore that high school seemed to be,” says Cuell, who grew up in Smithers. “I quickly discovered that when you are learning about something you really enjoy and care about, you really want to learn.”

Educationally emboldened by her time at the Castlegar Campus, Cuell is transferring to the University of Victoria where she will spend two more years completing a degree in the School of Child & Youth Care. Inspired by instructors at Selkirk College who sparked a passion in her, Cuell will head to Victoria in September with a newfound zest for learning she can harness to complete her studies.

“I want to be able to help people and I want to be able to help in a way that I’ll feel like I can make an impact,” says Cuell, a student-housing advisor at Kekuli House on the Castlegar Campus. “More education will enable me to help on a larger scale where you have more influence over policy. The knowledge and the skills you get in school backs that up.”

Like Cuell, Zubick arrived to Selkirk College in 2016, two years after graduating from high school. Getting back into learning was difficult at first, but he quickly found his groove in the classroom.

“I take a lot more pride in learning than I did when I arrived to Selkirk College,” says Zubick, who focused on sciences over the last two years. “When I first started, I accepted all the knowledge that a teacher gave to us as we did in high school. But through all the great instructors I have had over the last two years, they have helped mold the way I learn and made changes to the way I think for the better. Now I can ask questions and view the knowledge through my own lens to understand it better for myself.”

When Zubick entered Selkirk College, his thoughts were on majoring in Kinesiology. After being inspired by Biology instructor Paula Vaananen, his goal shifted and after graduation will be heading to Simon Fraser University to finish his Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in Environmental Conservation & Ecology.

Raised in Castlegar, Zubick left the Kootenays after high school to play junior hockey. The goaltender returned home after spending time in Manitoba and Ontario, suiting up for the Selkirk College Saints. As a student-athlete, over the last two years Zubick has been very involved in both the college and greater Castlegar community.

“There might be people who think that we are just here to play hockey, but that’s not the case with the Saints,” says Zubick, who was named the team’s co-MVP this season. “My teammates were always doing homework on roadtrips and getting together to study. It takes a lot of time away from school to play hockey, the time commitment is huge. As a part of this honour, I am proud to represent the program, my teammates and the entire Class of 2019.”

The Selkirk College 2019 Convocation ceremony takes place in the Castlegar Campus gym starting at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.