“Mohawk”, an ancient Iroquois tribe, a modern College Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
            The Mohicans of James Fennimore Cooper and today’s Six Nations tribe have a long and respected history vis-à-vis Canada. Joe Brant; the War of 1812, and the ‘guardians’ of early New York, are part of our combined history. In 1966, MOHAWK COLLEGE was formed and today stands as one of the most successful colleges in the country. For very personal association and respect, we decided to cover its graduation ceremony rather than a McMaster or U of T convocation.

The actual graduation ceremony procession

The actual graduation ceremony procession

From among nine Faculty ceremonies, we selected the Community and Urban Studies formality because of our almost decade-and-a-half involvement with busing ‘Special Needs’ passengers. The graduates will be involved with behavioral science; social disorders; autism; recreational therapy; early childhood education and working with youth. From our own experience, the emotional and self-control challenges are awesome.
The major speech to the graduates was given by Lisa McDonald class of ’94 who emphasized looking ahead as well as optimism. Mohawk president R.J. McKerlie not only congratulated his students but drollishly gave them a 3-part final assignment that dealt succinctly with friendship, staying in touch and accepting a permanent involvement with the school that has contributed so much to what will be their individual futures and livelihoods.

We weren’t asked to bestow a valedictory, but if we had; I’m sure that we could have given numerous examples of the difficulties; diametrics; humour and heartbreak that is intrinsically associated with ‘specials’ and the challenged. As a teenager I was considered ‘gifted’ and so my time driving a super-bright Dalewood Middle School quartet meant that I needed to be fully attentive to any vocal logic or opinion I expressed…mistakes would be immediately noted. Terry encountered an autistic ‘savant’ who had little patience with her only ‘above average’ intellect. Empathizing with the families of those youngsters completely non-verbal or those with multiple challenges requires an extra-large heart and personality. A superior sense of self-control is mandatory when dealing within this category. We know that the Mohawk Faculty weeded out those not suited for conquering such hurdles.
MOHAWK will graduate 4,512 students this week. From ADAMS to ZHAO, 359 (mostly female) are from the C.U.S. faculty.  Like our multicultural country, these young people span an amazing geographic, and many are recipients of more than one scholarship…obviously they did not take their studies and direction lightly.

We wish the entire graduate family a successful and self-satisfying life. They certainly have all the educational ammunition they’ll need.

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