Kielburgers become honourary alumni

For Craig Kielburger, Thursday afternoon was not only a chance to share some words with Laurier’s newest alumni, it was also a chance for him to experience something he had previously missed out on.

“I missed my own convocation, I was overseas doing some work at the time,” the co-founder of child advocacy group Free the Children said. “I especially appreciate the personal aspects of the way [the convocation] is set-up here at Laurier. The sheer number of family and friends, each graduate having his or her own time to be recognized in a personal setting, I really enjoyed watching the emotion, the excitement — and the relief — on the faces of all the students as the walked across the stage.”

Craig Kielburger, along with his older brother Marc joined 215 Laurier students, graduating with degrees from the Faculty of Arts and the School of Business and Economics at the WLU Athletic Complex on Thursday to receive honouary Doctorates of Letters.

The Kileburgers are most commonly known for co-founding Free the Children when Craig was just 12-years-old and Marc just 17. The organization has programs in over 45 countries around the world, building homes and schools in developing countries, while the brothers have also co-authored several books and organized We Day, an annual event meant to raise awareness of children’s issues, which came to Kitchener earlier this year.

While both Craig and Marc have degrees from other universities — Craig from the University of Toronto and York University, Marc from Harvard and Oxford — the one they received on Thursday, though honourary, is still something special to the two brothers.

“This is an incredible honuor, for two reasons in particular,” said Craig. “For one thing we have such a special connection to the Kitchener-Waterloo community, with having We Day here this year and the amazing support that we received, and also because we hire a great number of grads from Laurier to work both in Canada and overseas. So to be formally welcomed into the Laurier community is really something special…. Now that we’re honourary alumni, we plan on being active members of the alumni community.”

After receiving their honourary degrees, Craig addressed the graduates, reminding them what a privilege earning their university education is.

“To receive a university education is a rare honour in this world,” he said. “We meet children around the world and so often they tell us their greatest dream would be to have an education.”

Kielburger concluded by issuing the grads a challenge and reminding them that learning does not stop now that they are leaving university.

“How will you measure your success?,” he asked. “Will it be the title on your business card? The car you drive? Or the size of your bank account? I think we all know it’s more than that… True success is a living legacy. What will you be remembered for 100 years from now?”