Campus building facade.

September 12, 2017

Valedictorian Nominations close September 28

To many of us, giving the Valedictorian address to a graduating class sounds a bit daunting, even for a driven scholar. But what a finale to your graduate student life!

Deadline to nominate a fellow graduating student is September 28, 2017.

This fall, three valedictorians will be chosen to represent the graduating classes – one each for:

  • Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Faculties of Business, Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Faculties of Engineering and Science

Valedictorians are chosen, based on:

  1. High academic achievement.
  2. Potential and demonstrated leadership (personal, academic, volunteerism).
  3. Communication skill.

An experience to remember

In November 2014, it was anthropology PhD Bernice Downey's turn to step to the podium. She had spent five years at McMaster, under the supervision of associate professor Dawn Martin-Hill. The culmination of thousands of hours of research, moments of self-doubt, the isolation of writing ... it all fell away as she took those few steps to the front of the stage.

For Downey, this was one of those times, a moment when she could share her love of academia with those whom she loved the most – her family. And it made her address to the graduating class that much more important.

As an Indigenous scholar, Downey saw the valedictory address as a way to share her reflections.

"To be valedictorian provided a good opportunity to give voice to the Indigenous graduate student experience," she says. "It also afforded me the chance to advocate for systemic change within the academy."

Although the nomination process takes some time and coordination, Downey encourages students to get involved, whether nominating a peer or accepting a nomination.

"The valedictorian experience is a great learning opportunity, so go for it!"

To watch Downey's Valedictory Address, go to 1:57:00.