Northwest Graduates Appreciate Local Education

May 30, 2017
Tessa Shaw

No one from the University of Northern British Columbia Northwest campus Class of 2017 donned ruby slippers for their convocation celebration in Terrace, but many would agree there is no place like home.

Fifty-three graduates crossed the stage at the REM Lee Theatre, many completing their education in the same region where it began.

“It's been wonderful not to have to move away to go to school,” Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduate Sarah Degerness said. “I’ve been able to keep my job and work while going to school, I know the people I am going to school with and the class sizes are small.”

Degerness was joined on the stage with 15 other School of Nursing graduates during the celebration on May 30. There were also 16 Bachelor of Social Work graduates, 12 received Bachelors of Education, three Bachelors of Arts, two Bachelors of Science (Integrated) and one Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Three students received Master’s degrees, one in Business Administration and two in Education Counselling.

For Bachelor of Science (Integrated) grad Reilly Walker, studying close to home meant examining issues important to him and the region.

“Terrace is a great place to study, especially for someone getting a degree in natural resources and earth sciences,” he said. “I’ve studied everything from physical geography, biology and earth sciences to ethics, environmental law and anthropology.”

Tessa Shaw is one of the few graduates who did not hail from the Northwest originally, but the Alberta transplant has family roots in the region and has now found her new home.

“I decided I needed to be in the North, it is where I’m meant to be,” the Bachelor of Social Work graduate said.

Shaw said she and her classmates became fast friends. She expects that to continue as they enter the workforce together.

“The majority of us got jobs out of our practicums, and that’s not going to happen in a bigger centre,” Shaw said.

The allure of studying, and eventually working, at home is what brought Bachelor of Education graduate Alyssa Carson back to Terrace. After completing an undergraduate degree and playing varsity hockey at the University of British Columbia, Carson returned home to get her Education degree.

“This is a great community full of wonderful people and I have a great support network,” she said. “The classes at UNBC are smaller and I feel it’s a much more personal degree.”

Travel has always been a passion for Carson and she will soon be off again working as a physical education teacher in China. But she plans to return to Northern B.C. to live, work and be reunited with her classmates.

“We all entered as strangers and we’re leaving as a tight-knight group of friends,” Carson said. “We’re friends, we’re family, we’re colleagues, we’re a little bit of everything. It couldn’t be any better.”

Pictured: Bachelor of Social Work graduate Tessa Shaw.