A candlelit tradition

Dr. Katherine Wynne-Edwards advice to new students: “be yourself.”
Dr. Katherine Wynne-Edwards advice to new students: “be yourself.”

In accordance with a century of tradition, Queen’s students and alumnae participated this weekend in the 111th annual Candlelighting ceremony in Grant Hall.

Sponsored by the Alumni Association’s Committee on Women’s Affairs, this year’s candlelighting ceremony presented a welcoming atmosphere for first year women to start their involvement in the Queen’s community. Ceremony organizer Ange Currie ArtSci ’02 emphasized this aspect of the event with her continued stress on the importance of community at Queen’s.

“I think it’s important that we have traditions like this to bring the community together. Also, this is a unique experience for first and upper year students to get together and bond.” While the ceremony was geared specifically to welcoming first year women, the crowd of approximately sixty people also included many Queen’s alumni and members of the administration. These members of the Queen’s community interacted easily and spontaneously with the ceremony’s speakers, openly sharing their stories of the involvement of women at Queen’s during the past fifty years. The experiences shared by these former students and faculty members provided an essential glimpse into the history of Queen’s and the traditions of women’s involvement in all aspects of the University.

For many however, the highlight of the Candlelighting ceremony was the keynote speech given by Biology professor and Associate Graduate Chair Dr. Katherine Wynne-Edwards. In her speech, Wynne-Edwards brought the experience of university life into perspective, providing an anecdotal glimpse into her own time as a Queen’s student.

Her message was simple, “Be yourself”.

Wynne-Edwards encouraged the assembled women with the wisdom of her own experiences, stressing the importance of “remembering that your route through life is one of a kind — don’t plan too hard, be ready to change when you get the chance and have fun along the way.”

Before the candles were lit, each committee member cited a quotation from such influential females as Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt, further encouraging the idea of striving to be oneself, a theme which was of particular importance to the ceremony as a whole.

Reflecting on her experience, Julie Constantinescu, ArtSci ’04, was very positive about the ceremony and of the advice presented by Wynne-Edwards.

“I thought it was very interesting, a bonding thing between women. She gave us direction of what to do during university.”

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