Celebrating BCIT graduates: Winter 2024 Convocation ceremonies

500 students crossed the stage in three in-person ceremonies this March, joining more than 205,000 of our BCIT alumni community. We are proud of our graduates for their achievements and confident in their abilities to create sustained and meaningful impact beyond BCIT. 

Each ceremony begun with the acknowledgement that our campuses are located on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Our graduates were welcomed into the auditorium by William George-Thomas from the Tsleil Waututh Nation, as well as the Indigenous Women’s Ensemble M’Girl, who performed a traditional opening song. 

Before the crossing of stage, BCIT invited notable keynote speakers to share their valuable words of advice for our graduates who are starting to make their mark in the world. 

To symbolize closing this chapter and moving on to the next, our graduates heard from representatives of the BCIT Alumni Association at the end of their ceremony. 

Want to show your BCIT pride? Shop Alumni-branded merch including socks, water bottles, umbrellas, and more!

Read below for a summary of each ceremony:

Tuesday, March 5, 1:30 pm ceremony

 The first ceremony celebrated grads from the BCIT School of Health Sciences from Diagnostics, Laboratory and Allied Health, and Nursing. There were a total of 270 graduates who crossed the stage. 

Dan Reader, Chair, BCIT Board of Governors officially installed Dr. Jeff Zabudsky as the new BCIT President. In his speech, Dr. Zabudsky congratulated the graduates and asked them to stay connected with the BCIT community. 

The keynote for this ceremony was Rowena Rizzotti, Vice President, Healthcare and Innovation from Lark Group. She is a highly successful healthcare leader with more than 35 years of experience in executive-level leadership roles across multi-site, complex health and business environments.  

In her speech, Rowena recognized turbulent times that healthcare workers are facing and gifted words of wisdom to the graduating class who would be entering healthcare workforce post-pandemic. “Crisis breeds innovation.” she said. “Don’t look at it with fear. Look at it with curiosity.” 

At the end of the ceremony, the graduating class heard from Valedictorian Carla Lucero. In her address to the graduates, Carla explained how she was inspired by the nurses that took care of her grandmother: “This experience ignited my passion for nursing, compelling me to be someone’s voice, hand to hold, and strength. This story will forever be my reason—the answer to my ‘why.’” In sharing her story, she urged the graduates to remember their “why” in the busy everyday of working in healthcare. 


Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 pm ceremony

 Around 70 graduates from the BCIT School of Construction and the Environment, School of Energy, and School of Transportation were celebrated in the second ceremony. Not only is BCIT a leading contributor of trades, engineering, applied science, and natural science professionals, but we are also the only post-secondary in North America to deliver globally-recognized accreditation in all modes of transportation – air, sea, road, and rail. 

Keynote speaker Ryan Tones, Senior Vice President and District Manager of Kiewit’s Western Canada District, took the stage to deliver an empowering speech. During his time at Kiewit, Ryan oversaw major projects such as the G3 Terminal Vancouver, the Port Mann Highway 1 Improvement, the Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement, and more.  

As a BCIT alumnus, Ryan noted that the hands-on experience at BCIT provided a robust foundation to start his career. As an advocate of lifelong learning, Ryan advised BCIT graduates to continuously be open to feedback. He emphasized, “Negative feedback isn’t a problem, it’s an opportunity to improve and learn.”  

Ryan continued his speech by reminding BCIT graduates of the importance of professionalism and integrity. As they enter a dynamic industry with ample opportunities in construction, engineering, and trades, Ryan encouraged BCIT graduates to invest in what is right for the community.  

Toward the end of the ceremony, BCIT graduates heard from Valedictorian Pedram Kheirkhah. After working in construction sites over the years, Pedram became invested in energy conservation and carbon emission reduction – two critical concerns in the world today. “This quest for knowledge led me to the Master of Building Science program at BCIT,” Pedram said, “With BC as a pivotal center for building science in North America, BCIT was the ideal place for my aspirations.”  

While Pedram noted that while it was challenging to be away from family, he was grateful for being part of BCIT’s welcoming community. “BCIT has been more than an Institution,” Pedram said, “It has been a mentor [to me] and has guided many professionals and industry experts towards a successful career.”  


Wednesday, March 6, 1:30 pm ceremony

The final ceremony for Winter 2024 had a total of 160 student from the School of Business + Media and the School of Computing and Academic Studies crossing the stage. BCIT is one of the largest business and media schools in Western Canada, as well as the largest provider of computing and IT diploma grads in BC. 

Gary Schoenhaar was keynote speaker for this ceremony. He is the Corporate Security Manager at FortisBC, British Columbia’s largest utility, entrusted with protecting critical infrastructure and personnel to enable safe and reliable energy delivery to over 1.3 million customers. Gary is also a BCIT alumni; having graduated from the Forensic Investigation degree program.  

The graduates heard from Valedictorian Matthew Puyat, who encouraged the class stay resilient in the face of future challenges. “[The] challenges will differ,” Matthew warned, “but the feeling of being beat down should be familiar. You’ve faced this feeling before, from your time at BCIT and even before. [Recognize] that you got up and you overcame it.” 


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