Lethbridge College’s 64th Convocation will include a first: the naming of a valedictorian. College leaders selected Business Administration student Ashley Pierson, a graduate of Cardston High School, to fill the role at this year’s convocation ceremonies May 27 and 28.
Pierson, who holds a 4.0 grade point average and will graduate with Honours with Great Distinction, has been active at the college and in the community throughout her college years. She has worked as a peer tutor in the Learning Café and is a student representative on the Lethbridge College Students’ Association. Outside of school, she can be found singing in the Ventus Women’s Choir and volunteering in the community.
Business instructor Dr. Cheryl Meheden was impressed with Pierson the first time she met her, at the Alberta Deans of Business Case competition in 2019 where Dr. Meheden was the faculty advisor. “She was a first year, which was a bit unusual, but she ended up emerging as the informal leader of the group,” recalls Dr. Meheden. “Her communication skills were amazing. She would listen before she talked and was always very attentive to people and heard what they had to say. There is a depth and a breadth about her, and it all culminates in this extraordinary human being who we call Ashley!”
Pierson “meets people where they are at and then elevates them to where they could be,” explains Dr. Meheden. “She sees what is in people and builds on that. She’s not judgmental. She doesn’t think where she wants to go is better. She is willing to learn from everyone.”
Pierson said her favourite assignment these past two years was in Dr. Meheden’s class, where she and her group created a professional job description, job posting and job interview outline that a real company was able to use in its human resource processes. She adds that Dr. Meheden ended up being a key mentor for her at the college.
“She saw my potential far before I saw it myself,” Pierson explains. “She coached me and passed on a portion of her vast knowledge at the Alberta Deans of Business Competition. She embodies the bold and courageous businesswoman that I aspire to become. I am thankful for her undeniable support and guidance.”
Incorporating a valedictorian into the convocation experience is something that college leaders have been looking to do about for many years. This year, as the college switches from holding one convocation ceremony the day after finals ended to a true graduation ceremony after all final marks are submitted, was the ideal time to also introduce the new student honour.
“The valedictorian represents the graduating class, and the honour is based on a combination of academic achievement and service to the college and fellow students,” explains Marko Hilgersom, Registrar. “Our previous Convocation ceremonies had many celebratory speeches from college leaders and the valedictorian will now inject that student voice into the ceremony, while showcasing the brilliant students we have at here at Lethbridge College. I cannot think of a better student representative than Ashley, as our first valedictorian, and I look forward to hearing her voice as part of Spring Convocation 2021.”
Pierson says she is proud to represent the Class of 2021.
“I am truly honoured to be chosen as the first valedictorian for the Lethbridge College,” she says. “My fellow students greatly deserve recognition, as well, for persevering and graduating while facing a pandemic. The class of 2021 should be very proud of our resilience.”
For the Spring 2021 Convocation, Lethbridge College is moving to multiple small, drive-thru ceremonies on May 27 and 28 on campus. The event will be livestreamed for family and friends, and the celebration will be enhanced by a digital package of Convocation videos and well-wishes that students can access online and share at smaller gatherings within their own homes. The Spring Convocation will also recognize 2020 graduates who missed out on their ceremony in the early days of the pandemic.
Students eligible for Spring Convocation have until April 15 to register to take part in the ceremony.