Kabutarie Kuntie (Kathy) Singh receives the framed parchment of her degree (photo by Nicolle Wahl)

Convocation 2013: a graduate of distinction

If the graduand can’t come to Convocation Hall, Convocation will come to the graduand.

At the age of 73, Kabutarie Kuntie (Kathy) Singh is not the University of Toronto Mississauga’s oldest graduate, but her physical challenges made it impossible to attend graduation ceremonies at Convocation Hall. So on June 13, UTM brought her gown, her hood and her degree to Humber River Terrace, a long-term care facility in Rexdale where Singh now lives.

Residents and staff at the home filled the main lobby, while flowers, draping and a podium created a backdrop for the conferring of Singh’s degree.

Dressed in a vibrant pink outfit, Singh processed alongside Professor Deep Saini, U of T vice-president and principal of UTM, Mark Overton, dean of student affairs, Neil Neebar, Ron Racioppo and Sandra Speller from UTM’s Office of the Registrar, and Liz Martin and Teresa Jose from the AccessAbility Resource Centre.

Saini explained that Singh began her studies at UTM at the age of 65, after spending years travelling and working as a nurse. She enrolled in an Introduction to Philosophy course and ultimately completed a major in the History of Religion program.

“Kathy was fully engaged in her courses, including spending significant time in discussions with course instructors and listening to audio recordings of textbooks and lecture materials,” said Saini. “It was clear to us that Kathy truly enjoyed her education, taking courses at UTM in religion, philosophy, psychology, history and political science.”

“Additionally, Kathy was generous with her time, encouraging fellow students to focus and work hard to accomplish their academic goals. Kathy revealed herself to us as a person who is determined to live a life of purpose and meaning.”

On behalf of the Chancellor of the University of Toronto, Saini and Overton presented Singh with the framed parchment of her Bachelor of Arts degree, earned with High Distinction, meaning that her grades placed her among the top students.

As the residents and staff broke into applause, Singh—like her fellow U of T Mississauga graduates— held her degree and a bouquet of flowers and posed for photos… a reminder that learning is a lifelong voyage.

Nicolle Wahl is a writer with UTM

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