Chancellor Kiki Delaney and President Sara Diamond with 2017 medal winners. Photo by Christina Gapic

In her remarks on opening night, Dr. Sara Diamond, president and vice-chancellor, OCAD University, commented on the remarkable contribution of its 2017 exhibitors: “Our graduates can become the highly qualified problem-solvers and creative makers that our diverse and complex world needs. Art, design and design thinking represent an approach — a way of enhancing everyday life based on expanding our capacity to imagine, to consider challenges from every angle and to produce tangible results. These are fundamental tools needed to resolve the grand challenges of the 21st century.” 

In the midst of opening night festivities, OCAD U medal winners were honoured by their families, friends and special guests at Celebrate Excellence, a private reception celebrating their accomplishments. Guests paid tribute to 22 medal winners, who are masters of technique and creativity while also being high academic achievers.

Elisha Lim, a graduate medal winner for Criticism and Curatorial Practice, reflected on the inspiration of her fellow medalists in her speech: “I’m proud to stand amongst my fellow graduates because all of us are skilled and talented, but what sets us apart and makes us OCAD’s medalists is our determination to use our education in service of a better future.”

Undergraduate medal winner for Advertising, Justin Platnar, spoke poignantly about his ambitious plans, as a teen, to attend OCAD U:  “Every week I dreamt that, someday, I could go to school in that magical box in the sky… So here I am, all these years later, surrounded by the most talented and encouraging individuals that I’ve ever had the good luck to meet.”

The whirlwind five-day exhibition ended with a delightful visit by Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, for a special tour. OCAD U’s GradEx 102 also raised over $10,000 through visitor donations.

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