Ashley Anna O’Neill delivers the valedictory speech for the 2021 graduating class of Pacific Coast University of Workplace Health Sciences’ Bachelor of Disability Management program. The convocation ceremony was held virtually, with participants from all over North America and also Great Britain. (SCREENSHOT)

Ashley Anna O’Neill delivers the valedictory speech for the 2021 graduating class of Pacific Coast University of Workplace Health Sciences’ Bachelor of Disability Management program. The convocation ceremony was held virtually, with participants from all over North America and also Great Britain. (SCREENSHOT)

Second class graduates from Pacific Coast University in Port Alberni

Convocation ceremony took place via Zoom

Faculty and students from Pacific Coast University of Workplace Health Sciences held a convocation ceremony via Zoom for the first multi-student bachelor’s program graduates on Oct. 22.

Graduates of the 2021 Bachelor of Disability Management program are: Laura Elizabeth Harrison, Sylvie Leblanc, Tara A. Locke, Sean David Magnussen, Frances’s S. Massaquoi, Ashley Anna O’Neill and Brett Donald Edward Smith. While the learning institution is based in Port Alberni, students came from all over.

“This is a tremendous day for all of us,” said Sari Sairanen from the PCU-WHS board of governors. “The world of work is changing and we need transformation…you will be those change makers,” she said to the graduating class.

This was the second convocation ceremony for PCU-WHS: Shanna Ramm was the first-ever graduate of a degree program, celebrating virtually in 2020. She enrolled in the degree program in 2015 and completed her studies through the university’s flexible distance-learning approach. Ramm was a guest at the virtual ceremony for the second convocation.

“For all of us here today this is not our first career,” valedictorian O’Neill said. “Our futures are bright. Many of us are already working in the field or hoping to work in it” or are continuing with their education, she said.

The statement was music to Zimmermann’s ears. He has spent the past two decades working to legitimize workplace disability management. Zimmermann was injured in an industrial accident 44 years ago, and said he had good support from his union and employer, both of which helped him find a different path in his employment journey.

Not everyone injured on the job has a happy ending like Zimmermann, but he hopes the Bachelor of Disability Management program will bring the promise of a future to more workers.

To learn more about Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences and its disability management degree programs, go online to www.pcu-whs.ca.

Alberni ValleyPort AlberniPost-secondary Education