STU is a Place of Growth - Celebrating 2024 Spring Convocation

Ahmik Burneo at Spring Convocation

Valedictorian Ahmik Burneo says STU is a place where students are encouraged to grow both academically and personally.


He spoke to the 280 graduates who received degrees in social work, applied arts, and arts at the 2024 Spring Convocation about the importance of STU's tight-knit community. 


"Thank you, STU, for being more than a university – you've been our home, our launchpad into the world," said Burneo, who is originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador. 


"Thank you to everyone who plays a vital role in the STU community because you have made our time here not only about academics but about shaping us into better human beings. Thank you for providing a space where we could forge deep connections and meaningful relationships with our peers and professors. You don't get this anywhere else."


Finding a Community Amidst a Global Pandemic


The class of 2024 began their first year at STU during the pandemic, with all classes delivered online. 


"Four years ago, when the pandemic hit, and STU moved online, what concerned us most was that we couldn't fully offer an in-person, welcoming, robust community, said Dr. Nauman Farooqi, President and Vice-Chancellor.


"Together, we learned different ways to connect, to provide positive experiences, to teach, and just to 'make the most of it' — whether that meant virtually or distanced.  It wasn't fully the same, and we worried about how we'd get back to that vibrant campus life that makes STU distinct."


But he said that all changed when students returned to campus, got involved in the community, and brought STU back to life. 


"Your accomplishments reminded us that what makes STU special has always been people and their deep connections as they learn and grow. The STU community has truly been re-energized by you. For that, we say thank you," he said.


Honouring a Community Builder


During the ceremony, Marcel LeBrun was bestowed an honorary degree. LeBrun is a social entrepreneur, philanthropist, and community builder who founded the 12 Neighbours Community, a dignified, affordable housing community.


Formerly the CEO of Radian6, Senior Vice-President at and Venture Partner with Real Ventures, LeBrun and his wife Sheila now work to establish charities and projects that benefit people impacted by poverty and marginalization, as well as initiatives that benefit vulnerable youth through the LeBrun Family Foundation.


After his company, Radian6, was acquired by, LeBrun invested his own money into his new project, 12 Neighbours, providing fully independent homes as affordable rental units. 12 Neighbours provides supports, such as substance use recovery counselling and opportunities to improve health and education, as well as a social enterprise centre with training businesses designed to help people develop new skills and overcome employment barriers.


"I left the tech industry and began travelling and visiting amazing organizations, asking, 'Who is doing the best job in the world of sustainably addressing poverty and homelessness?' In the last two years, here in Fredericton, I've been building a community called 12 Neighbours. We have built just over 100 tiny homes, one new house every four days, for people who were formerly experiencing homelessness. 


"But more importantly, we are building a supportive and inclusive community that believes in people. It reminds them of their value and their strengths. It includes them in our broader community and surrounds them with healthy and supportive relationships. Our vision is a community where people are cherished, barriers are challenged, and opportunities are accessible."


His advice for the graduating class of 2024 was simple. Instead of focusing on the path you choose in life, focus on how you walk that path.


"Which path will you take? It seems like an important decision. And it is," he said. "But I want to propose to you that there is a much more important question: What type of person will you be? It's not which path you take that determines your future; it's how you walk that path. Your character and your values, more than anything, are the keys that will open or close doors."


University Medals

  • University Medal for Arts: Rachel Lynne Doucet from Fredericton, NB (Honours in Psychology). 
  • University Medal for Social Work: Mikayla Annis from Fredericton, NB (Bachelor of Social Work)   
  • Governor General's Medal: Elize Marisol Davila, from Diego Martin, Trinidad and Tobago (Honours in English Language and Literature). 

Tom McCann Award

  • Estefania Gabriela Martinez Sierra is the recipient of the Tom McCann Memorial Trophy. The award is presented to a student who possesses strong leadership, character, and personality traits and best portrays the university's spirit through their contributions.

 Honouring Faculty Members

St. Thomas University honoured four faculty members for their professional achievements and impact on the university.


  • Dr. Karla O'Regan (Criminology and Criminal Justice) is the recipient of the John McKendy Memorial Teaching Award.
  • Dr. Tracy Glynn (Environment and Society) is the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Part-Time Teaching.
  • Dr. Jamie Gillies (Communications and Public Policy) is the recipient of the University Scholarship Award.
  • Dr. Mary Lou Babineau-Rosada (Romance Languages) is the recipient of the University Service Award.