GRAD 2020

Hello, Class of 2020! On these pages you’ll find congratulatory messages from across campus, and will be able to view this year’s inspiring and impressive Keystone projects — including the Showcase winners. We are so proud of you and wish we could celebrate in person. We can’t wait to see what our newest Quest alumni do next.

A letter from the Chair of the Board
A note from Chancellor Webster
Faculty Address: a letter from Drs. Jamie Kemp and Emma Davy
Faculty Address: a letter from Drs. Jamie Kemp and Emma Davy

Congratulations to the Quest graduating class of 2020!

You are graduating in unprecedented times. The skills you have learned at Quest to question, to tackle tough problems, to laugh, and most of all, to share in all of your endeavors as a community, will be more important than ever. I have watched Quest graduates as they have fanned across the globe taking on the world’s challenges, just as we had hoped and expected they would. Many do not find their niche immediately, but use their Quest skills to find their way. You will too.

You have worked hard and played hard. I envy the experience you have had at Quest (I wish I could have been a student here!) and admire you for what you have accomplished. You deserve your moment in the sun. I have attended seven Quest graduations, always thrilled to see the intelligent, happy faces, and to applaud the graduates as they stream from the ceremony out into the sun, tossing their caps together high into the blue sky. You should have that. I wish I could share it with you, and I am sorry it didn’t turn out that way. I understand, in true Quest fashion, you devised an alternate way to celebrate that was all your own.

I applaud you all now, wherever you are. Your road ahead is not easy, but you are prepared to be creative, courageous, and caring. Stay connected with your Quest community throughout the world and go forth!

With much respect and admiration,

Mary Jo Larson, Chair, Quest University Board of Governors

Dear 2020 Graduate

I want to congratulate you on being graduated from Quest University. This is a huge accomplishment for you. I wish I could be there to show the pride I have for you and all of your fellow graduates.

As you cherish this sweet moment in your life, at a time when the world is united in confronting a big challenge, you should know that this global unity ensures humankind will once again overcome. I can assure you that more sweet moments will come your way. Hoard every sweet moment. They are a product of your hard work and your positive attitude. Then release each one into the world to seed more joy.

Please accept my very best wishes.

Peter W. Webster

Chancellor, Quest University Canada

Congratulations, class of 2020! It is our pleasure to write to you, together, as you embark upon the next stage of your lives. We started at Quest in the same year as many of you, and it gives us great pride to see all you have accomplished. We have each chosen a word that we feel characterizes you, the class of 2020, and the Quest education. Emma chose the word “extraordinary,” and Jamie chose the word “mirrors.” As a Chemist and an Art Historian respectively, we bring different perspectives, but we both want to take this opportunity to acknowledge your success today and the success we know you’ll find in the future.


Emma Davy

I am so honoured and touched to address you with my incredible colleague, Jamie, as a representative of the faculty. We all could not be more proud of what you have achieved.

The word extraordinary has been used an awful lot at Quest this year. In AllOffice and AllStudent emails, in hallway conversations, and in one-on-one meetings. Unfortunately, in a year of extraordinary circumstances and perhaps being extraordinarily tired, rarely has this word meant something positive. As you all complete this stage of your academic careers and lives, I want to remind you of all the ways that you all are truly extraordinary, in the best sense of the word.

You are extraordinarily kind. I have witnessed your kindness in many ways; reaching out to new students in their first year struggling to adjust, treating your tutors with respect even if you are taking a class far outside of your academic passions, giving each other care and respect and space to learn. The kindness of Quest students is something I have admired since my first day in 2016, and I hope you will continue to value this piece of yourselves as you transition to whatever comes next.

You are extraordinarily insightful and collaborative. Your collaborative spirit expands beyond the classroom to everything you do and have done. You all built a community on campus through your support of each other’s intellectual pursuits, planning of events from journal clubs to music festivals to athletics, and by building friendships and relationships you will have for life.

You are extraordinarily persistent and hard-working. For four years I have watched all of you sit in the Atrium of the library building intensely focused on your work, have received email at all hours of the day, and worked with you to answer questions from small details to enormous concepts. You rejected complacency, strove for greatness, and achieved a tremendous amount in four short years. Watching your Keystone presentations has only reinforced the respect I have for all of you.

You are extraordinarily resilient. This has been a difficult year, there is no hiding that. At the end of this challenging year, you all said goodbye to your friends and members of the Quest community too early and too quickly. Through this all you remained committed to each other, Quest, your mentors, and your studies. The tenacity you have all shown in the face of the unthinkable has inspired me.

You are extraordinary people. Every day I am reminded why I choose to be at this institution, in this place, with all of you. Even spread across time zones and speaking to each other through screens, I feel a deep connection to all of you.

You are now degree holders, but most importantly, you are holders of knowledge. Knowledge of literature, the history of the atom, statistics, and so much more; yes. But you also now carry knowledge of how to think deeply and critically, you possess the skills to recognize the positionality of others, and you know the responsibility and power of what you learned.

Take this knowledge, class of 2020, and continue to change the world by being extraordinary.


Jamie L. Kemp

When I heard that I was going to have the double honour of addressing you on behalf of the faculty, I did what many clever Quest Tutors do: I turned the question back to you.

“What should I say?” I asked my Keystone class. “I’m afraid the pandemic has me down, but the theme of disaster doesn’t suit the occasion.”

You did what many clever Quest students do; you teased me. “Please, just don’t say ‘we are living in unprecedented times.’ You told us yourself to avoid clichés.”

Jokes aside, you reminded me how the hero’s journey is supposed to unfold: the main character heads off on an adventure, is tested, learns a great deal, then returns to the community in pomp and with new gifts to share. You have done most of that at Quest: you set off on an adventure, you learned, you were tested, you triumphed. You were sad about missing graduation, though, and about having to give up the public witnessing, ritual, and fanfare that are the next stages in the hero’s quest. Given the current context, you worried most about being unable to bring back the restorative gifts that heroes share with their communities. That was the most poignant part.

Then you said that, however cheesy it sounds, your Quest education was especially relevant today. You used the word “practical” to describe your Liberal Arts and Sciences degree. You know how to think, how to create, and how to see problems from many perspectives. Most importantly, you know how to learn with each other. You said that you’ve just had an indispensable adventure of self development, and now you’re asking yourselves how you can be most useful to others.

You added, “Keep in mind that we’re all in this together, students and faculty.”

Class of 2020, thank you for sharing your adventures with us. I hope that we’ve helped you to see the extraordinary people you are. Thanks especially to my Keystone class, whose thoughts in this time of trouble have restored me and made me very proud. You are generous beyond what I could ever have taught you. I’m honoured to be “in this” with you.

Dear friends, families, staff, faculty and graduating class of 2020,

First, I would like to acknowledge that the land on which Quest University Canada sits is the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Sḵwxw̱ ú7mesh peoples (Squamish). On behalf of the Graduating Class of 2020, we are profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity to work, learn, and live in this blessed territory during our undergraduate education.

It is an honour to be selected by our class to represent them as their Speaker. Honestly, I did not ask or expect to be nominated. When I was notified about the nomination, I was at first somewhat dismayed. The reason I am hesitant to ‘speak for’ our class is because we have all had such a variety of experiences at Quest. Nevertheless, out of respect for my friends I decided to respond to the call with sincerity and care. In an attempt to avoid just talking about myself and what I think about Quest, I reached out to our class asking them to share memories and stories of the most meaningful and significant moments of their time here.

As expected, the stories I heard were diverse, as there is an extraordinary breadth and richness to the experiences Quest makes available. However, as I was reading these stories, I noticed a theme that is common to all of us — friends, families, staff, faculty and students alike.

I realised that Quest is made of dreamers. 18 years ago, Quest was a dream in the mind of our founder David Strangway. Before founding our university, Strangway was Chief of the NASA Geophysics branch during the Apollo missions. Like a voyage to the moon, Quest was the stuff of dreams. Strangway gathered a small group of academics — some of which are still our mentors today — to design the curriculum of their dreams. In September 2007, these founding faculty along with an inaugural class of 73, embarked on a journey to create the university of their dreams — leaving behind a plaque that reads “I know not where this path will lead, but it will be a place both beautiful and strange.”

Today, you still have to be a dreamer to come to Quest. Our staff and faculty are not paid more to work here. We have an extraordinarily rigorous academic program accompanied by some of the highest tuition fees in the country. Students come from all over Canada, North America and the world to attend Quest. We do not come here expecting to leave with a guaranteed job. We come here despite these challenges. We come here willing to accept risks because we believe in this dream. Every one of you, friends, families, staff, faculty and students alike are continuing this legacy of dreaming by having supported us to reach this milestone.

With this in mind, I invite us to take a moment to acknowledge those that did not make it to this milestone. Some students, whether for health reasons, financial reasons or otherwise, were not able to finish their degrees here. Nevertheless, they shaped our experiences in profound ways and I am sure I speak for all of us when I congratulate them for what they accomplished, and thank them for everything they brought to our lives.

On behalf of our class I would like to extend our sincere thanks to all the families and friends that in various ways have supported us in our time here. Your support has transformed our lives and enabled us to realise our dreams. Thank you.
We would also like to express our profound gratitude for all the staff and faculty that have joined us in this dream over the years. Your passion for this place fills it with magic and wonder. Many of you will remain our friends and mentors for the rest of our lives. Thank you for everything.

Finally, I would like to personally thank the Graduating Class of 2020 for their contributions to my life. As I said before, we have all had a variety of experiences at Quest. Indeed, dreams can be both beautiful and strange — but you have made my life here an experience beyond my wildest dreams. I am reminded of this almost everyday, whether we are playing soccer on the field as the sun sets behind the tantalus mountains, floating down a meandering river on a raft or listening to music by firelight under the stars.

I am constantly inspired by the amazing leaders you all are and the incredible things you accomplish, whether it is Mason doing research on top of a volcano; Kate and Lauren performing to crowds of thousands of people; Sami and Claire traversing an Alaskan ice field; O’kongo organising TED talks at their headquarters in New York; or Nate and Rikki leading the student body through challenges we have faced with elegance and integrity.

However, as many of you have recently reminded me, your smiles, hugs in the hallway, sunny chats in the quad, silent suppers, wine and cheeses, concerts, songs, poems, jokes, dips in the river, walks in the forest and waves from the balconies are what I will cherish most. Thank you all for four years of bliss.

With love,

Dan Ellis

Quest University Canada is suspending regular academic programming following
completion of the current academic year in April 2023.

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