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Making memories with friends and family: Convocation 2012

Education PhD graduate Jonathan Arendt poses with daughter Cecily for their Memory Maker photo in Convocation Plaza (photo by Caz Zyvatkauskas)

Front campus at St. George campus has a whole new buzz with the various activities and seating areas available to family, friends and graduates celebrating convocation this year.

From the new live Twitter feed to the new impromptu Memory Maker photo booth, U of T 2012 convocation ceremonies have a great deal to offer those inside and outside Convocation Hall.

A live feed of the ceremonies taking place inside also makes it easier for some guests to have a different seating option for the duration of the ceremony.

“For guests with small children sitting in seats for two and a half hours can be challenging. In the tent, kids can run around, they can eat,” said Steven Bailey, director of Office Space Management.  “This year we’ve provided interactive components, such as the photo booth, in addition to the diploma framing and bookstore activity.”

The Memory Maker photo booth has been a popular part of the plaza, a focal point for convocation.

“We posted almost 500 photos on Monday alone,” said Alison Liddell, special projects coordinator.

Tiajana Djokic, a recent honours bachelor of science graduate said the photos make the event a family affair for her and Twitter is a welcome addition.

“I think it’s nice to have pictures because people have brought a few guests with them and they can get a picture with everyone and, because it’s electronic, they can send photos to everyone,” said Djokic.  “I also tweet so I’m totally for the Twitter feed as well.”

Recent graduate Shaun Poon called the experience amazing.

"Look at the line here at the booth," Poon said. “I really love the TV screen and I love the technology aspect.

“I think having Twitter is great and it’s great that U of T is taking advantage of that. I love that they’re really integrating everything with social media and live feeds.”

New College graduate Parneeta Singh agreed.

“Having the interactive elements is great so people can know what we’re feeling. It’s pretty cool.” 

That feeling is contagious on Twitter.

“Seeing all of the con hall '12 photos from @UofTNewsUpdate is starting to get me excited for my graduation! #only3moreyears!” tweeted @Kathleen_Morin.

Even U of T alumni are taking part in the twitter conversation.

“Aww, I was one of those happy grads last year. MT: @UofTNewsUpdate Excited grads making the walk across the circle! #uoft,” tweeted @AnnieClaireBO.

Bailey said the various elements in Convocation Plaza have made a significant impact.

“Convocation is a ceremony steeped in tradition and we celebrate that tradition,” said Bailey. “But at the same time we still need to keep it relevant for our graduates. By adding the interactive element, we’re introducing a lovely mix.”

Having the tent on front campus has really helped welcome family and friends for the milestone event with their graduate, he added.

“It takes what I think is a really special and magical day and ups it even more. It provides people with choices and alternatives.” 

Proud parent Rajiv Narang was celebrating his eldest daughter’s convocation.

"Convocation Plaza is great," Narang said. "There are so many things to do - get gifts, frames and food.”

Bailey said the team plans to make the event even bigger in the coming years including bringing in more divisional activities.

“There are a lot of divisions, a lot of departments and a lot of people doing some great things. To be honest, we’d like a bit of friendly competition because that keeps people on their toes.”