Spring convocation ceremonies for McMaster University's School of Nursing and Faculty of Health Sciences are being held on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

There will be 562 nursing students from the nursing school consortium of McMaster and Conestoga and Mohawk colleges conferred their degrees at its convocation on Wednesday, May 22 at 2:30 p.m.

A total of 550 students from the undergraduate medical, midwifery, and Bachelor of Health Sciences programs as well as graduate students of several health sciences programs will be hooded at the convocation on Thursday, May 23 at 2:30 p.m.

Both convocation ceremonies take place at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly known as Hamilton Place).

Julie Rubel is graduating this spring with a Master of Science in Nursing (MScN). Rubel worked towards her degree part-time while working as a nurse clinician with the geriatric assessment program at Niagara Health.

"Completing my degree feels incredible after having been away from school for 12 years," said Rubel, who had earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from McMaster in 2004. "It has been very rewarding to connect with other nurses to understand their challenges and to build enhanced skills to identify and create solutions.

"I feel the knowledge I obtained over the course of my masters will allow me to take my participation in each of these roles to the next level, better incorporating evidence and systems-knowledge to enhance the care of older adults and the nursing profession."

Carly Szabo is also a graduating with an MScN. A training specialist with the Schlegel Centre for Advancing Seniors Care at Conestoga College, Szabo completed her degree part-time at McMaster.

"This has been a wonderfully challenging experience that presented with so many amazing opportunities," said Szabo, who lives in Brantford. "Maintaining a positive perspective, strategically planning my time and making school a priority helped me keep pace with the course requirements.

"I am excited to apply and continue to expand my capabilities with research, education and practice with the Schlegel Centre for Advancing Seniors Care at Conestoga College."

Szabo will be crossing the stage at convocation for the School of Nursing on Wednesday. Her parents, husband and two sons, Hudson, 7, and Jace, 5, will be cheering her on from the audience.

"This has been two and a half years of my family's life," she said. "I am excited for my sons to get to celebrate this achievement with us."

Two distinguished health professionals will receive an honorary doctoral degree at the spring convocation ceremonies.

Brenda Flaherty will be recognized by the School of Nursing on Wednesday. Flaherty served in many senior roles in 37 years at Hamilton Health Sciences before her recent retirement as its executive VP of clinical operations. Flaherty, a McMaster sociology graduate, has been a key figure in shaping health care in Hamilton and an influential teacher, mentor and community volunteer.

Fergus Shanahan is to be recognized at the Faculty of Health Sciences convocation on Thursday. Shanahan is a global leader in gastroenterology who was a McMaster research fellow from 1981 to 1983. Today he is the chair of medicine at University College, Cork, Ireland. An inventive and prolific immunologist and microbiologist, he is renowned for his humanity and literary insight.

The valedictorian addresses will be given by Micah Zagala, who has completed her undergraduate nursing degree, on Wednesday, and by Owen Luo, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Health Sciences, on Thursday.  

While the ceremonies mark the end of their time at McMaster for many graduates, lifelong learning will continue. 

And Rubel said it's never too late to think about coming back to McMaster.

"If other nurses are wondering, 'Can I do this? Can I go back to school after years away?' The answer is, 'Yes!' The desire to enhance your knowledge base and skills is a great start. I believe our profession needs passionate leaders willing to invest in better health for all."

Both convocation ceremonies will be webcast live here: https://registrar.mcmaster.ca/grad/day-of/webcast/.  

Archived copies of the ceremonies will be available one to two weeks later here:

Photos from convocation will be posted here: