KPE celebrates Class of 2024

KPE graduates congratulate each other outside the Convocation Hall (all photos by Dewey Chang)
KPE graduates congratulate each other outside the Convocation Hall (all photos by Dewey Chang)

Some 16,000 students will graduate from the University of Toronto this spring, with more than 13,000 set to cross the stage inside Convocation Hall on the St. George campus between June 3 and 21.

Graduates of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) received their degrees on June 6 in a convocation ceremony featuring honorary degree recipient Wilton Littlechild. This was followed by a more intimate graduation reception for KPE students, their families and friends hosted at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

group of students on stage with awards at KPE convocation reception
Undergraduate students were presented with awards by Dean Gretchen Kerr, on the right, while proud family members and friends snapped pictures at the KPE graduation reception hosted at the Goldring Centre

“Congratulations from all of us at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education,” said Professor Gretchen Kerr, dean of KPE. “We are so proud of all that you have accomplished during your time here with us. 

“The core mission of our faculty – to develop, advance and disseminate knowledge about the interactions of physical activity, mental wellness and overall health – is as important today as it ever was and I can’t think of better ambassadors than our graduates to carry that mission forward.”

Associate Professor Ashley Stirling, vice dean of programs, congratulated the graduates on earning their degrees from a demanding academic program at Canada’s top university.

Tavis Smith at podium at KPE Convocation reception

Tavis Smith, a graduate of the doctoral program, spoke at the reception

“The breadth and depth of the research undertaken at our faculty is nothing short of impressive and its impact is felt far and wide,” she said before introducing graduating student Tavis Smith, whose doctoral thesis was about a sport-for-development mountain biking and trail-building program in a First Nation community in British Columbia.

“I know everyone’s experience in education since 2020 has been a bit different, but I saw enough of life in KPE before, during and after the pandemic to know that this faculty has a little something special going on,” said Smith. “It’s been a privilege to learn alongside people from a range of interests and backgrounds.

“I’m so grateful for the windows my friends, colleagues, students and teachers have opened to the wider world for me.” 

Freyja Spence at podium during reception

Freyja Spence, a graduate from the Master of Professional Kinesiology program, addressed the audience at the reception

Freyja Spence spoke on behalf of the students who graduated from the Masters of Kinesiology Program (MPK). 

“From my undergraduate days studying human kinetics, my aim was always to be in a profession where learning was never ending and aiding others was paramount,” said Spence. “Kinesiology provides an ideal platform for this pursuit.

“Throughout the MPK program, I was continually amazed by the diverse paths my peers took with their studies – from therapeutics to high performance – underscoring the vast impact kinesiology can have within health care."

Associate Professor Catherine Amara, associate dean of undergraduate education at KPE, congratulated the graduates on reaching this important milestone in their lives. 

“I’ve had the pleasure of following the progress of many of you - from the first year you joined the BKin program to this exciting moment – and it’s been so impressive to see how much you’ve grown from those early days,” she said. “It has been a joy to witness you discover what you’re passionate about in this field and share this passion with each other and the community.”

Emma Karanlian at podium during reception

Emma Karamanlian, a graduate of the bachelor of kinesiology program, spoke at the reception

Amara introduced Emma Karamanlian, who graduated with a bachelor of kinesiology from the Faculty. Reflecting on the first two years of her undergraduate degree in the middle of a pandemic, Karamanlian said her class had an unconventional introduction to the program, however it taught them the lesson of adaptability.

Another lesson learned? Acceptance over performance.

“Ultimately, we each found our footing within our education,” said Karamanlian, who will be continuing her studies in the master of kinesiology program under the supervision of Associate Professor Caroline Fusco. “I argue that the Class of 2024 has redefined kinesiology as the study of the resiliency of a found family, learning in and through a plethora of methods, to determine a societal holistic wellness.”

Karamanlian’s speech was followed by a presentation of undergraduate student awards, followed by remarks from Martha Cumming-Buchanan, who spoke to the newly minted graduates on behalf of KPE alumni. 

“As a proud graduate of the faculty, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the KPE alumni family, now counting over 6,600 graduates,” said Cumming-Buchanan, who serves as the president of the R. Tait McKenzie Society.
“Wherever your work or travel may take you, your connection with this University and this Faculty will act as an impressive introduction and a remarkable stepping stone.”

Cumming-Buchanan encouraged graduates to stay actively involved with the faculty and the university, and said U of T is committed to providing them with valuable knowledge, networks and volunteer opportunities even after they graduate.

Closing off the event, Dean Kerr congratulated the graduates on their new academic degrees and wished them all well on behalf of the faculty.

“We can’t wait to hear what you go on to accomplish next,” she said.

Related reading:

With PhD in hand, KPE grad and former Olympian aims to tackle athlete abuse.

“You are the captain of your ship, so make the most of your voyage,” says BKin graduate