New Canadian Grads Soak Up 'Commencement Experience'

Each of the 4,000-plus graduates who received UC degrees in June has a unique, personal story to tell. But the journey of three new alumni was particularly intriguing.

When Jeremy Lewis, Chad Sutherland and Scott Billing walked across the Fifth Third Arena stage to accept their degrees in Fire Science Technology from the College of Applied Science, as well as the congratulations of UC President Nancy Zimpher, they were spending their first weekend on the UC campus — and even being in the United States was a change!

The trio is from the Toronto area and had been enrolled in the Fire Prevention Engineering School of Seneca College, a three-year program which, according to Lewis, features Canada’s premier hands-on training in this unusual but vital academic field.

“We were approached in our third year at Seneca and offered a chance to obtain a degree from UC by extending our studies for one more year,” Lewis said. “Recognizing that such an opportunity is not offered anywhere in Canada, we jumped at the chance to be the first ones from Seneca to meet this new challenge.”

The degree program was offered entirely online, which is UC’s most rapidly growing academic option.

“The online experience was new to all of us, but the amazing faculty at UC and Seneca College made the experience a memorable one,” Lewis said.

Virtually all of their fellow ’07 graduates had been through the ups and downs associated with UC’s transforming campus during their years as students, but for Lewis, Sutherland and Billing, Commencement was the first time UC was about bricks as opposed to clicks.

“When we arrived, we were amazed — not only with the sports facilities but also the architecture of the buildings on campus,” Lewis said. “I was amazed at how the entire school was designed and set up, and we all agreed it would have been a tremendous experience to attend classes at such a state-of-the-art facility.

“To finally see the school, meet the faculty, walk the stage … It was a long road for the three of us to get to that point, and we all had a great sense of accomplishment.”

Lewis intends to turn his UC degree into fire prevention work and ultimately a career as a fire investigator. And he is adamant that wherever he goes and whatever he does, it will be as a proud member of the UC family. He even joined the UC Alumni Association during the Grad Bash celebratory event the night before Commencement.

“I’m looking forward to many trips to UC as a UCAA member because the greeting we received from the Alumni Association was the one of the warmest I can remember,” he said. “I’d like to personally thank UC and all the UC Alumni Association members for making our trip a very memorable one. GO BEARCATS!!!”

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