By Minh Truong
As first-year students assembled in the Isabel Bader Theatre for Orientation Week's highly anticipated Traditional Ceremonies, they each found a heartfelt note on their seat personally written by Vic alumni. A long-held tradition, the notes serve as a connection with Vic alumni who offer incoming students words of wisdom, inspiration and encouragement, connecting the College’s storied past to its present.
Lidiia Tulenkova, who graduated in 2023, remembers what the note she discovered meant to her, arriving as an international student full of both excitement and worry. “Receiving an alumni note during the Traditional Ceremonies made me feel connected with the welcoming Vic community,” says Tulenkova. “Looking back on orientation brings up the warmest memories of this life-transforming time.”
For this year’s orientation, Tulenkova decided to pay it forward by writing a note to a first-year student herself: “I am excited to see you thriving and accomplishing great things! Just breathe and keep going. It’s going to be great, I promise.”
Vito Labate, president of the Victoria Alumni Association (AVC), says the connection between alumni and current students is palpable. “Our alumni around the world serve as inspiration for current students,” says Labate. “Similarly, students at Vic today are an inspiration to alumni because they represent the future for our community and the world we live in.”
During his time at Vic, Labate found the great alumni culture sparked his ambition to make the most of his time as a student. “It was the primary force for me to give back to the Vic alumni community today, helping shape the next generation of Vic graduates,” says Labate.
“I extend you a resounding welcome, knowing that your unique talents and diverse perspectives will enrich our student community and leave an indelible mark on the legacy of Victoria College,” wrote Labate in his note.
For Tulenkova, the connection between alumni and students goes beyond the notes. “It is genuine care that stands behind the sense of community and shared experiences in every conversation I had with Vic alumni,” says Tulenkova. “As a new alumna, I am excited to share with students my own story and experience!”
Vic Traditionals also include time-honoured traditions such as the Ceremony of the Sand and the Hourglass. Before entering the theatre, each first-year student pours sand into a bucket which is then poured into a giant hourglass filled with sand from previous years, blending the paths of its students, past and present. The Lamp of Learning, another ritual, symbolizes the passing of knowledge and truth to the next generation as it is lit by students. The Traditionals culminate in the singing of “The Old Ontario Strand” by Victoria College Dons, a Victoria College song that goes back to 1910.
Are you a Vic College graduate looking to share your experience with the new generation of students? Sharing your own university experience can play a formative role in inspiring the ambitions and journeys that students today aspire to as they complete their studies at Victoria University. Learn more about our mentoring program from the Victoria University Alumni Affairs & Advancement office.