Celebrating our Spring and Fall 2020 graduates

MSVU celebrated our amazing Spring and Fall 2020 graduates, honorary degree recipients, faculty award winners, and newest Professor Emeritus at a virtual ceremony held on Sunday November 1, 2020 at 3 p.m. (AT).

2020 Graduation Booklet (PDF)

Meet the Valedictorians

Shannon Davis,
BA, BEd, MEd

Having now completed three degrees at MSVU – a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education and Master of Education – valedictorian Shannon Davis exemplifies many

of MSVU’s most cherished values. In addition to being bright, articulate and insightful, Shannon is community-minded, a critical thinker and a leader. She is known as a supportive classmate and a generous listener.

Shannon mentions that one of the most meaningful experiences during her studies at MSVU took place when professor Dr. Jonathan Roberts encouraged her to write a paper about a riot or revolutionary movement that occurred in Bermuda. She said that, while she initially thought no such event had ever happened in Bermuda, by

working together with him she learned about multiple social unrests that took place on the island due to racial tensions. Shannon says it was this awakening that fostered her love for social justice issues.

Shannon is now back home in Bermuda where her MSVU degrees are already serving her personal and career goals. She is currently enjoying her first year of teaching, with a focus on Grade 6 and 7 Social Studies in the Bermuda Public School System.

Check out Shannon’s Q&A!


Abbie Hodder, BBA

Valedictorian Abbie Hodder is an exceptional and engaged student who has made significant contributions to the Business & Tourism Department during her four years at the University.

While at MSVU, Abbie completed three co-op work terms and also made time for student leadership, co-op student resume writing workshops and volunteering at the MSVU Fountain Play Centre.

Abbie says Assistant Professor Rhonda Bursey is an academic mentor who taught her a great deal about accounting and business and also encouraged her to get involved on campus.

Abbie mentions the 2018 Tourism & Hospitality Study Tour course as a highlight of her time at MSVU. The class travelled to Orlando, FL, during the fall study break and volunteered with two organizations – Give Kids the World Village and Second Harvest Foodbank. She says the experience affirmed for her the importance of small acts of kindness.

Having begun Chartered Professional Accountant studies in May, Abbie is currently working as a Junior Accountant at BDO Canada, LLP. Once it is safe to do so, she plans to travel to Europe and visit friends who live abroad.

Check out Abbie’s Q&A!


Greg Pretty, MEd

Given that Greg Pretty has spent a good part of his academic and working life as an integral part of the MSVU community, it’s fitting that he’ll graduate with his Master of Education in Lifelong Learning as valedictorian.

Originally from Clarenville, NL, Greg found his second home at MSVU, where he has spent most of his adult life. He’s been an employee at the university for more than 25 years and completed his degree while working as Manager of Multimedia Services at the university.

Greg says the MSVU community has embraced him and supported his professional development goals, helping to hone and nurture his education and expertise. Over the course of his time at the university, Greg has been involved in many committees and initiatives, serving as a part-time instructor and taking undergraduate and graduate courses.

In recent months, Greg has spent many hours supporting the university’s transition to an online campus and teaching classes online. He says it’s been a pleasure working alongside his colleagues to collaboratively improve and energize the MSVU experience, and he’s looking forward to what comes next.

Check out Greg’s Q&A!


Tess Spencer, BA

Tess Spencer is an exceptional individual whose academic strength, intelligence and enthusiasm have left a lasting impression among faculty members in the MSVU English Department. As a student at MSVU, Tess raised her voice as a speaker and through lead roles in dramatic readings.

A dedicated community volunteer, Tess provides her support to initiatives including an autism early intervention centre and as a tutor for children and young adults for the past five years. Tess has also been writing an in-depth analysis about the systematic marginalization of Black men in Bermuda, which she hopes to publish next year.

Tess says one of the greatest joys from her time at MSVU was becoming Co-Communications Officer for the English Society, alongside her friend Brianna Bean. She says a highlight of her university experience was receiving a free ticket from professor Dr. Diane Piccitto to see former US President Barack Obama speak in person.

Currently living back in Bermuda, Tess says her next goal is to gain substitute teaching experience before applying for postgraduate degree programs in the field of education.

Check out Tess’s Q&A!


Emily Wright, BSc

Emily is a mathematical scholar and researcher and an exceptional MSVU community member. In addition to her impressive academic performance, she is known for her leadership and service and her passion for being involved and helping others.

During her time at MSVU, Emily was an active student who engaged with her fellow students as a Peer Support Worker and Mount Mentor. She also volunteered her time to the Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative, student ambassador program, organizations for women and girls in science, a math outreach program, and many other projects.

A member of the MSVU varsity volleyball team for three years, Emily says she will always remember her time as a Mystic. While at the university, Emily also gained experience in research working alongside Math department faculty over the course of three summers and during her honours thesis.

Emily has already moved on to graduate studies, having begun her master’s degree at Concordia University in September and currently taking part in online courses from Halifax. Originally from Hampton, NB, she looks forward to moving to Montreal once pandemic restrictions are eased.

Check out Emily’s Q&A

Meet the Honorary Degree Recipients

Anne Innis Dagg, CM, BA (Hons), MA, PhD, Hon DSc, DHumL

Dr. Innis Dagg is a pioneering zoologist, groundbreaking biologist, animal rights activist, and feminist who has received worldwide recognition for her work on giraffes. In 1956, she became the first person to study giraffe behaviour in the wild. She is the author of over 60 scientific papers and 23 books including The Giraffe: Its Biology, Behaviour and Ecology (1976) along with fellow zoologist Bristol Foster. She faced many challenges in her career – most notably because she was a woman who was prevented from becoming a tenured professor at the three universities she taught at near her home in Waterloo. This resulted in her disappearance from the giraffe world. Three decades later, an invitation to a giraffe conference in Phoenix, Arizona, and a documentary about her life, The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, brought her story to light again.

The recent Order of Canada recipient has dedicated her efforts to establishing The Anne Innis Dagg Foundation with a mission to draw attention to the challenges wild giraffes are facing in Africa and the importance of conservation.

Dr. Dagg holds a BA (Honours) in Biology and MA in Genetics, both from the University of Toronto, a PhD in Animal Behaviour from the University of Waterloo, and Honorary Doctorates in Science from both the University of Waterloo and University of Toronto.


Anna Maria Tremonti, BA (Hons), Hon LLD, DHumL

Ms. Tremonti is a long-time journalist who has travelled Canada and the world in pursuit of stories that both enlighten and disturb. She has worked in radio and television for decades, mostly with the CBC.

She began her career at CKEC radio in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and spent three years in private radio in the Maritimes and Ottawa before joining CBC as host of its morning show in Fredericton. Her path through the CBC included local reporting jobs in Edmonton and then to the Parliament Hill bureau in Ottawa, taking on the environment and defence beats, as well as covering the politics of the day. From Ottawa, she became a foreign correspondent, travelling the world from bureaus in Berlin, London, Jerusalem and Washington. During that time, she covered the end of the Soviet Union, the changes in Eastern European countries after the fall of the iron curtain, the wars in the former Yugoslav republics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the final two years of the Clinton administration. Anna Maria returned to Canada to pursue investigative reporting as a host of the fifth estate but within two years, shifted back to radio to be part of the team that created The Current, CBC Radio 1’s flagship current affairs program.

The Current team brought hard-edged interviews, long form interviews, documentaries, extensive road trips – from across Canada, including Northern Canada, to Afghanistan, Jerusalem, Argentina and across the US – and inclusive public forums to the airwaves, changing the expectation of what radio was capable of in morning programming, and winning numerous domestic and international awards for its host and producers in the process.

After 17 years as host of The Current, Anna Maria chose to leave her permanent job at the CBC to explore audio storytelling through podcasting. The CBC podcast More went to the top of the Apple charts when it was released. She is now working on a second, serialized storyline for podcast.

Anna Maria was born in Windsor, Ontario. She has an Honours BA in Communication Studies from the University of Windsor, and honorary doctorates from the universities of Windsor, Carleton, York and Royal Roads. Beyond her work she is a voracious reader, a theatre and cinema buff, a dedicated cook, a passable skier, a rusty scuba diver, and a traveller. Her driver’s licence still includes a designation for motorcycles, but she says she’s done with that. Anna Maria lives in Toronto with her partner, John Filion.


Lynn Jones, BA, Hon D Hum

Dr. Jones is an educator, community historian, civil and human rights activist, labour leader, and a truly inspiring speaker. Lynn has served her community and the nation in multiple ways over the course of a long and distinguished career. She was the first African Canadian to join the executive ranks of the Canadian Labour Congress and to be elected General Vice-President. She was also an official international observer of the first democratic elections held in South Africa which saw the election of Nelson Mandela as the country’s first Black President.

Lynn is a native of Truro, Nova Scotia, and one of 10 children born into an Indigenous African Nova Scotian family of community leaders. She has been a life-long civil and human rights activist. Her protest has always focused on all aspects of social, political and economic inclusion with special attention in areas of anti-racism, feminism, class, ability, poverty and the environment. Her social justice priorities are presently focused on the obtaining of Reparations for Afrikan People and highlighting the crimes against humanity perpetrated during and following the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. As well, she continues to highlight the archival Lynn Jones African Canadian and Diaspora Heritage Collection housed at Saint Mary’s University and containing more than 10,000 articles and artefacts of Black and Indigenous life locally, nationally and internationally, collected by Lynn over 50 years and donated for public access.

Lynn believes that “by putting aside our individual agendas and working for the good of all, we can solve all problems.” She is a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Acadia University. And while retired from the federal public service, she remains active in her community.

Student Award Recipients

The President’s Prize

The President’s Prize is awarded to graduates whose generosity, energy and commitment enrich the university. The recipients are:

Nahal Fakhari, Bachelor of Arts (Child and Youth Study) Honours
Halifax, NS
(Spring graduate)

Emily DeMille Wright, Bachelor of Science (Honours)
Hampton, NB
(Spring graduate)

The Governor General’s Medal

The Governor General’s Medal is presented once per year for the highest aggregate in the final three years of a degree program (undergraduate) and the top graduating Master’s student. The recipients are:

Emily DeMille Wright, Bachelor of Science (Honours)
Hampton, NB
(Undergraduate award)
(Spring graduate)

Lynne M. MacKinnon, Master of Education (conferred November 2019)
Halifax, NS (Graduate award)
(Spring graduate)

Kappa Gamma Pi

Membership to Kappa Gamma Pi, the National Catholic College Graduate Honor Society, is based on scholarship, leadership, and service. The recipients are:

Shannon Power, Bachelor of Education (Secondary Education)
Halifax, NS
(Spring graduate)

Jenna Ryan Stewart, Bachelor of Arts
Moncton, NB
(Spring graduate)

Marissa Claire Wilmot, Bachelor of Public Relations (Co-operative Education Route)
Dartmouth, NS
(Spring graduate)

Alishia Berthelet, Bachelor of Arts (HONS)
Bedford, NS
(Fall graduate)

Manila Tanafranca, Master of Arts in Family Studies and Gerontology
Calgary, AB
(Fall graduate)

The Graduate Thesis Award

The Graduate Thesis Award is presented to a student who has completed a thesis of exceptional quality including evidence of well-developed, independent research skills and contribution to their academic discipline. The recipient is:

Manila Tanafranca, Master of Arts in Family Studies and Gerontology
Calgary, AB
(Fall graduate)

Thesis: A Modified Institutional Ethnography of IPV Service Provision for Newcomer Women in the Halifax Regional Municipality

Supervisor: Dr. Deborah Norris

Faculty Award Recipients

President and Vice Presidents’ Advanced Career Teaching Award

This award is presented to a faculty member, librarian or laboratory instructor who has demonstrated teaching excellence throughout their career at Mount Saint Vincent University. The recipient is:

Dr. Alla Kushniryk

Alumni Early Career Teaching Award

This award is presented to an early-career full-time faculty member, librarian or laboratory instructor who has demonstrated commitment and promise in the first five years of their career at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Dr. Krista Ritchie 

Alumni Part-time Faculty Teaching Award

This award is presented to a part-time faculty member, librarian or laboratory instructor who demonstrates commitment, knowledge and skill as a university educator. The recipient is:

Laurie Reed

Early Career Research Award

This award, given to an early-career full-time faculty member, recognizes the individual’s commitment and achievement as a contributor to the research community and to the research climate at Mount Saint Vincent University. The recipient is:

Dr. Diane Piccitto 

Award for Research Excellence

This award is presented to recognize a faculty member’s contribution to the research
community and to the research climate at Mount Saint Vincent University. The recipient is:

Dr. Derek Fisher

Professor Emeritus

Dr. Brook Taylor, former MSVU Dean of Arts & Science, is the University’s newest Professor Emeritus. This status recognizes, at the time of their retirement, the significant contributions of senior faculty members and librarians to Mount Saint Vincent University.

Congratulations Dr. Taylor!

Receiving your parchment

MSVU recently provided a parchment and gown pick up opportunity on campus, where Spring and Fall grads were able to book appointments to pick up their parchments and borrow grad gowns for photo opportunities.

Please note: Parchments that were not picked up will be sent to the appropriate grad (as part of a special Grad Box) by mail. 

Valedictorian speeches