Graduation Celebrations

Share Your Story

Share Your Story

We wanted to acknowledge our amazing graduating class and give them a chance to share some of what they have overcome in order to reach this milestone achievement. Below are the road-to-graduation stories that were submitted. A random draw was done and three of the story authors have been selected to receive a prize package including a UNBC parchment frame and other goodies. We hope that you are as encouraged as we are by reading the unique stories below that represent just a few of the incredible students that we are proud to call UNBC Alumni.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

Social Media

Use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other platform to share your experiences and have your family and friends share in the excitement too! Use #UNBCgrad2021 for all social media posts leading up to and during Convocation.

Photographs and recordings will be taken during Convocation, which may be used in UNBC promotional materials. Additional uploaded content, such as messages, video, photos and comments may also be used. Names, credentials and hometowns will be displayed in the program. Consent for the above is assumed unless otherwise indicated to the Convocation Office.

2021 Stories

Emily Bickel

Emily Bickel - Bachelor of Applied Science
I wanted to pursue Environmental Engineering ever since I found out it existed in grade 11. Intimidated by the move to Prince George, I decided to take my first year of engineering close to home in the lower mainland. After a year, it was apparent that environmental engineering was what I was most interested in, so here I am. 
My experience in Prince George exceeded my expectations, I met new friends, got involved with extra curriculars, and made some amazing memories. I overcame many obstacles to get to this point, including living away from home, adjusting to university, a challenging workload, and a global pandemic towards the end.  However, it was definitely worth it and helped me grow so much as a person. 
I want to thank everyone who supported me towards my degree, my friends, family, professors, and UNBC staff. I couldn’t have done it without you. 

Alyssa Connell

Alyssa Connell - Bachelor of Science
My Bachelor's of Science degree began with taking a variety of classes and an undeclared major and after finally choosing a major, I quickly changed it. Once I decided what I wanted to do at UNBC, I worked hard taking 22 courses in 20 months, and in those 20 months my courses were interrupted by a job action and a global pandemic. My time at UNBC will be memorable for many reasons, but my favorite is the people that I met along the road to graduation. 

Byron Finkelstein

Byron Finkelstein - Bachelor of Science
It’s been quite the journey that I couldn’t have endured without the support of my family, friends, and professors. Sent from my iPhone. 

Julia Garcia

Julia Garcia - Bachelor of Arts
I came to UNBC straight out of high school with a desire to just work outdoors every single day. Through my first 3½ years, I struggled with major mental health problems and always had one foot out the door. But I made some amazing friends and great relationships with my professors, and was lucky enough to travel and experience new things.
So when I had a life changing stroke in January 2020, which was supposed to be my final semester, my UNBC family kept me afloat. Without the support from my amazing professors, administrators, and of course all of my friends, I don't think I would be here graduating today. Thank you for the letters of support sent to the hospital, and monthly check ups over email, that is what kept me motivated to return to UNBC. This final year was hard, but I want to thank my awesome support group at UNBC for helping me. I am so excited to be graduating with a BA in Nature Based Tourism and am ready to get back to work in our parks.


Brianna Greer

Briana Greer - Bachelor of Arts
My name is Briana Greer and I completed a Double Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Global & International Studies. In addition, I received a Certificate in Public Administration and the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate 
I experienced many ups and downs and struggled with losing many loved ones throughout my undergraduate journey. But, I persevered and overcame every obstacle that was in my path. I am the first Métis in my immediate and extended family to receive a bachelor’s degree, which I am extremely proud of. 
I would like to thank my family, friends, professors, and Métis Nation BC for all of the support over the years to get me to where I am today. 
Congratulations to the Class of 2021, we did it!

Renee Haynes

Renee Haynes - Master of Social Work
A seed was planted in my mind in 2012 when I was asked, as part of my practicum report for my undergraduate in Social Work, to list 5 short, medium and long term goals I had for myself. One of the goals I listed was to complete a Masters programme within 5 years.
Needless to say life happened and 5 years rolled by without this goal being met, but it was always at the back of my mind and so in 2019 I committed to exercising my faith muscles, packed my bags and said “see you soon” to my beloved island home, Jamaica. 
One strike and a pandemic later I am now a proud MSW graduate! There were times when I felt I was coming a part at the seams, but during those times I recalled my High School’s motto Perstare et Praestare – persevere and excel!

Colton Lieuwen

Colton Lieuwen - Bachelor of Commerce
I started in the BSc Biology program in my first year. I really enjoyed it, but I found it wasn't my passion and I didn't have a plan with it. I decided to switch into the BComm Finance program, and right away found my passion and love for business and numbers. For my third and fourth year, I joined the JDC West program, a huge business competition held every year. I learned so much through this program and met so many people that will be my best friends for many years to come. I am so thankful for my university experience and everything I have learned.

Kimberly Marceau

Kimberly Marceau - Bachelor of Education
My Journey to become a teacher began when I was a little kid. My little sister and I would play 'school' where I was the teacher and she was my student. I would have her practice writing, doing math, and sometimes mini art lessons (which was mostly like "draw a frog - colour it green"). I have always had a passion for teaching, but did not complete the program just for myself. My grandmother always wanted to become a teacher but was never given the opportunity. I can remember how proud she was of me for following a dream that she was unable to chase. A huge support for me throughout my journey was and always will be my family, I am eternally grateful for their support and kindness. I am currently working in Smithers at the schools and loving my career choice. Good luck everyone, and thanks for the memories.

Holly McVea

Holly McVea - Bachelor of Science Honours
Attending UNBC has given me countless opportunities to learn about myself in addition to the world around me. I started in the BCMB program in 2016, but I switched to Biology after 2 years. I originally planned to only go to UNBC to get prerequisites for pharmacy, but I ended up staying. This university is filled with many places to try out ideas, work on projects, and meet wonderful people. Since being at UNBC, I've joined and founded student led organizations, participated in undergraduate cancer research and student politics, articulated a moose calf skeleton, and worked for several departments. Getting involved at UNBC has allowed me to discover and hone skills, explore my interests, and gain an invaluable network of people is a diverse array of fields. I'm very lucky to have found such a wonderful university community, and I'm grateful for my time here.

Emily Norum

Emily Norum - Bachelor of Commerce
I started my undergraduate degree at UNBC in the Biomedical program, but quickly found my passion within international business and marketing. Throughout my degree there were so many opportunities to learn hands on! I started by doing research within  Prince George that quickly led to working for startup companies at  the University of Toronto, and expanded to an Internship in Myanmar. I’m so grateful for the support of all the professors that I have had over the last 4 years and the friendships that I have made! Cannot wait to start my next adventure.

Joni Siiriainen

Joni Siiriainen - Bachelor of Science
I moved to Canada in the fall of 2014 from Singapore with ambitions to obtain a university degree. I started out in Vancouver taking college courses in biology, math, English, computer science, and geography to buff up my transcript. I eventually decided that I wanted to study forestry, so I moved to Nanaimo in August 2016 to complete a forest resource technology diploma at Vancouver Island University. After graduating in April 2018, I transferred to UNBC forestry starting in September 2018. Fast forward three years and I have come to the end of my university experience with a BSc in Forest Ecology and Management. During summers, I worked and travelled to visit family and have made many friends along the way who have made me a better person. Thank you to all of my friends, family, colleagues, and professors. Without you, I would not be where I am today. 

Julian Stokes

Julian Stokes - Bachelor of Health Science Honours
I grew up with a passion for science and for helping others that naturally led to me aspiring to become a doctor. I initially planned to proceed directly to medical school after my undergraduate degree. However, after engaging in research first-hand and completing my Honours thesis, my immediate focus has shifted towards health sciences research. Thus, I will be pursuing my master’s degree this fall.
Despite being beset by many challenges along the way, I have steadfastly persevered in completing my studies. I am grateful for the friends and professors I have had the pleasure of working with over the past four years, as well as my mother, who has been my greatest supporter throughout this entire journey. As I prepare for the next stage of my academic career, I look back at how far I have come and am incredibly proud to be where I am today!

Johnathan Botelho

Johnathan Botelho - Bachelor of Health Sciences
It was a dream come true to play and study in the City where I grew up.  In 2015 I was recruited to join the UNBC Timberwolves Men's Soccer Team as well as be admitted to the school as a UNBC Academic Achiever.  I started out in Health Sciences majoring in Biomedical Studies but quickly figured out that was not my passion. I remained in the Health Sciences program where I graduated with a Major of Community Population and Environmental Health, as well as a Minor in Psychology. To top it all off, in my final year of study I was awarded USport Academic All-Canadian for maintaining a 3.67GPA or higher while playing varsity athletics. I would like to thank everyone at UNBC for the most memorable experience possible, with a special thanks to my teammates, professors, UNBC Athletic Department and my Coach Steve Simonson. Thank you for the best university experience.

Heidi Dodenberg

Heidi Dodenberg - Master of Science in Nursing
Wahoo!! Can not believe it is finally over! Feels like I have been working on my Master’s in Nursing for years... oh wait…I have!
Completing this degree means more than the degree itself since many personal and professional challenges were faced over the years; however, I am happy I persevered. I look forward to a summer without the voice in my head telling me to read ALL THE ARTICLES! 
Thank you to everyone that helped me along the way. I would have not been successful without my family and friends. Thanks for pushing me to finish. 
In case someone needs to hear this: If I can do this with a full-time job, and a family, you can too! 

Caitlyn Gallinger

Caitlyn Gallinger - Bachelor of Science in Nursing
UNBC has been home to me for many years now that I am graduating with my second UNBC degree. I first got a degree in BCMB, then later applied into the nursing program and fell in love with it. I discovered that my true passion was medicine and working with patients. I am now graduating with my BScN after three years that felt like they both zoomed by and lasted a lifetime! I am so excited to be starting a career that gives me so much room for learning and growth.
While it took me a little while to find my passion in life, I think that every step of the journey was important in making me who I am today. UNBC is a place where I grew, learned, and made lifelong friendships. I am so happy to be beginning a new chapter in my life as a registered nurse!

Joel Goodwin

Joel Goodwin - Bachelor of Arts
I’d like to thank my legs for supporting me all this time.

Anna Hasenauer

Anna Hasenauer - Bachelor of Arts
I started my journey at UNBC right out of high school in 2017. It goes without saying that I could have never accomplished this achievement if it were not for the ongoing support from my family, friends, and various important people in my life. I am amazed at how fast these past four years have flown by and am incredibly excited to use my education to enhance my career in the insurance industry. My experience at UNBC is one I will never forget as it has really shaped the person I am today. Congratulations to the graduating class of 2021!


Tianna Holmes

Tianna Holmes - Bachelor of Science (Integrat)
I have chosen this degree as I have always cared for the environment, and with this degree I will be able to make a positive impact on earth. Thank you to all of the people I have met on this journey and those who have helped me reach my goals!

Lila Mansour

Lila Mansour - Bachelor of Arts
As a youngster, I would come to UNBC with my mother, a student at the time, on my Pro-D days off school. I enjoyed roaming the hallways, imagining the wildlife figurines were real and getting hot chocolate at Tim Hortons. I knew one day I would graduate from this wonderful institution, and this big day has finally arrived: I can proudly say I have a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from UNBC!
It has been an extraordinary journey, filled with successes, hardships and joys. I am so grateful for the numerous opportunities I have had at UNBC.
I could not have been able to get through these past four years without the support of my family, friends, peers, professors, mentors and community. The Lila that once dreamed of being a student at UNBC would be so proud of the young woman I have become.
Congratulations to all the 2021 graduates!

Sherry McKinnon

Sherry McKinnon - Bachelor of Social Work
My name is Sherry McKinnon, I was born into the Laksilyu clan, and I am of Wet'suwet'en descent. I was born and raised in the Bulkley Valley, where I also raised my four beautiful children and married the love of my life. 
Although I decided to go back to school later in life, I do not regret the choice I made; learning has no age limit. I have a passion for helping others and limited knowledge of how to do that, so I applied to the Social Work program. Not only did I receive a wealth of knowledge, but I have also met some pretty great people while attending UNBC. Cheers to 4 years and cheers to attaining my BSW!​

Crystal Nguyen

Crystal Nguyen - Bachelor of Science in Nursing
I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was just a little girl, playing with toy stethoscopes and fake syringes. It’s crazy to think that my love for the profession persevered to this very day — the day that I am finally a registered nurse.
Knowing that a pandemic would complicate my experiences in the clinical setting, I was wary of missed learning opportunities. I am happy to say that I came out of the program with a substantial amount of learning and even a bit of personal growth!
I’m so thankful for the knowledgeable nursing professors, lab instructors, and preceptors that I have had the pleasure of learning from. And of course, the support from my peers, family, and my boyfriend was always appreciated! It was such a joy to attend a university right at home in the north; I’m so proud to officially call myself a UNBC alumna!

Emmanuel Ogwal

Emmanuel Ogwal - Master of Arts
My name is Emmanuel Ogwal. I came to Canada to pursue my master’s degree (Economics) in 2016. In 2018, my parents’ homes were unlawfully demolished and all our lands in Uganda were illegally grabbed by the Solicitor General of Uganda. I received the videos of my late home demolition in the middle of the night and I froze down from the pain watching my poor parents and siblings burst in tears, stood by, and watched as over 40 armed military policemen demolished the houses down to the ground in broad day light. I later worked approximately 10 jobs in between 2018 and 2020 to afford my tuition, my siblings’ tuition, healthcare, and food for my parents and siblings back home.  Thankfully, Canada and UNBC supported me through my graduate school. Today I pray that Canada grants me citizenship so that I am better able to support my family, relatives, and friends.

Hashanpreet Singh

Hashanpreet Singh - Bachelor of Science
My journey till graduation is one of the best experiences I have ever had! I lived totally a different life than I did before I came here. I am so grateful that I have parents who always supported me and sent me to UNBC to study, so mamma and papa, thank you for everything you did for me! And yes my sister, who always supports me. I made a lot of friends who are a part of who I am today which only happened because I was studying here, so it was totally worth it. All these years at UNBC are not just my academic years, they are the best years of my life so far! The best thing I have accomplished is that I got to know myself even more than ever. Lastly, I wanna thank UNBC and my profs for everything. Let’s keep rolling and go to new adventures. Congratulations to all who graduating and Good luck to everyone!

Morgan Thideman

Morgan Thideman - Bachelor of Commerce
I never knew I wanted to go into business. I had always thought I was destined for the medical field and spent a majority of my childhood imagining my future self in scrubs or a lab coat. 
After a few attempts at different medical-based school programs, I found that I just couldn’t love any of the programs the way I should.  
In 2016 (after a few gap years), I really started paying attention to business programs. I found the content to be fascinating and noticed that the subject matter of the program aligned with my personal interests. Of course, I had to apply—and the rest is history.  
It’s been nearly 5 years since I made that life-changing decision. I have met the most incredible people, made some great friends, and made a lot of memories. Thank you, UNBC, for an amazing 4 years.