May 6, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Valerie Hopkins is one of three Indigenous student graduates of 2016, and is from the Lenaapee/Delaware Nation. She is a candidate to graduate of the Master of Social Work program 2016 and she tells us her story below:

“I have a dream. I very much want to encourage and support youth to chase their dreams. It became clear to me that to do this effectively, I would need to lead by example and pursue higher education. Six years and three degrees later - Childhood Social Institutions, Bachelor of Social Work, and now my Masters of Social Work - it has not been an easy time for me. My time and my life at King’s as an Indigenous student has been quite the experience. I certainly could not have done this without the support of Indigenous Services on main campus, the professors at King’s, in particular Rick Csiernik and Sharon Vitali, and my fellow students, whom I adore. Their constant unwavering support and encouragement kept me semi-sane and standing in the storm as I chased my own dreams. Considering the emotional, mental and financial cost of returning to school; I ask myself, would I do it again? Of course.”

The 4th annual Indigenous student graduation ceremony at Western was held on April 7th, 2016. During the ceremony, graduates received a handmade stole with an Indigenous motif which they then will wear during convocation to identify indigenous identity and pride. Of the three exceptions given by Western University to wear unique stoles at convocation, the other two are bequeathed upon military membership and peoples of faith of clergy. The other King’s graduates who participated in the Indigenous student graduation ceremony were Jared Lees of Psychology (Pays Plat First Nation) and Alycia Montague of Sociology (Cayuga from Six Nations).