The University of Winnipeg



Meet UWinnipeg’s 2023 Spring Convocation Valedictorians

Head shots of The University of Winnipeg's 2023 Spring Convocation Valedictorians: Simon DePasquale, Shae Torres, and Cameron Adams.

The University of Winnipeg’s 2023 Spring Convocation Valedictorians (left to right): Simon DePasquale, Shae Torres, and Cameron Adams.

The University of Winnipeg community congratulates Shae Torres, Simon DePasquale, and Cameron Adams, UWinnipeg’s Valedictorians for the 122nd Convocation ceremonies on Monday, June 19 and Tuesday, June 20.

Meet Shae Torres, Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology

Shae Torres will address graduates being conferred degrees in Arts on Monday, June 19 at 9:30 a.m.

The 23-year-old chose UWinnipeg in 2018 because of the small class sizes and access to world-class faculty members.

“I liked how intimate and small it was, and it felt like a nice transition from high school,” Torres said. “I feel like I got to know my classmates and my professors really well because of that, so I’m super grateful.”

As part of the psychology honours program’s hands-on learning placement, Torres volunteered at New Directions, an organization supporting individuals living with a disability. In her free time, she also volunteered with Special Olympics Manitoba.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant Torres did most of her learning online. She, nevertheless, formed tight connections with her honours cohort.

“We all started making group chats online and I feel like we became really close that way,” she said. “We would meet on Zoom after classes and work on things together.”

Her academic path was influenced by a second-year course on sex and gender taught by Dr. Lisa Sinclair.

“Ever since that class, I just became really, really interested in social psychology, and I kept taking her classes and eventually asked her to be my thesis advisor,” Torres said. “She’s been such a great research mentor for me and motivated me to pursue psychology all the way.”

Torres plans to pursue a master’s degree abroad and then return to Canada for a PhD in social psychology. In the meantime, she has begun a one-year term as the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s equity, diversity, and inclusion coordinator.

“Diversity and social justice are something I’m really passionate about,” Torres said. “I thought this would be a good transition to the professional world and a chance to put the things I learned into practice.”

Torres’ advice to her fellow students is to “soak it all in” and practice self-care.

“It does seem hard in the moment, but it’s all worth it. I think you’ll look back and realize those were some of the funnest times of your life.”

Meet Simon DePasquale, Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biology

Simon DePasquale will address graduates being conferred degrees in Science, as well as Business and Economics, on Monday, June 19 at 2:30 p.m.

DePasquale grew up with a love for the outdoors and, in particular, fish and fishing. That passion has trickled into his studies where his love of fish and science meet.

A member of the Upper Mohawk band, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, DePasquale has excelled at every level of his studies and is now pursuing research with a goal to protect and manage Indigenous fisheries.

His pursuit and curiosity have translated into several research projects in the Hasler Fish Biology and Conservation Lab. Under the guidance of Dr. Caleb Hasler and Dr. Jennifer Jeffrey, his research has been presented at four national science conferences and will lead to several publications. 

DePasquale also found time to participate in campus life. This included serving as President of The Wildlife Society, as well as volunteering with UWinnipeg’s Chapter of the Canadian Indigenous Science and Engineering Society. He also helped mentor current and future students by working as a lab demonstrator and hosting Indigenous high school groups on campus. 

During his time at UWinnipeg, DePasquale earned a place on the Dean’s Honour List as a Student of Highest Distinction every year of his studies. He also received more than 20 academic awards and scholarships, including two Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards.

He was also recently awarded the prestigious NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship. This award will allow him to complete a Master of Science at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, which he has already begun. He is currently researching the overwintering ecology of arctic char in Kugluktuk, Nunavut to help protect this food resource for local Inuit communities. 

To the Class of 2023, DePasquale shares this advice: “Follow your passions and find a way to incorporate what makes you happy into your career.”

Meet Cameron Adams, Bachelor of Education in History

Cameron Adams will address graduates being conferred degrees in Education, Kinesiology and Applied Health, and Marriage and Family Therapy on Tuesday, June 20 at 9:30 a.m. 

Adams has dedicated his life to Indigenous language revitalization. 

After taking UWinnipeg’s first-year Cree courses, Adams worked with Elders and other community members to create the n-dialect language app, nēhinawēwin, which familiarizes users with Swampy Cree words and phrases. The app was released at the beginning of 2022.

“Making space for Indigenous languages in Canada is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” he said. “We need to speed up the revitalization process, speed up the documentation, and continue community building. I want real change.”

Adams, who was named a McCall MacBain Scholarship recipient this spring, will be pursuing the Ad Hoc Master of Arts program in Indigenous Language Revitalization at McGill University this fall. He’s graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Languages and a Bachelor of Education in History.

He says it was shocking to find out he had been chosen as Spring Convocation Valedictorian, as his only focus this final term was graduating and preparing for his master’s studies.

“I am really grateful to have this opportunity,” he said. “I’ve already had a great year and this is the cherry on top of my whole graduation.”

As he looks back at his six years at UWinnipeg, Adams says he’ll really miss the campus community.

From living in McFeetors Hall for four years, serving as the Student Representative on the Board of Regents and on the mental health committee, starting his mornings in Riddell Hall with a coffee from Diversity Food Services, and spending most days at the Aboriginal Student Services Centre, he was an active member of the University community from day one.

Adam’s advice for the Class of 2023 is simple: “Don’t be afraid to pursue challenges. You have your education behind you and you can do anything you want to in life. Take every opportunity you possibly can and use it to grow.”

In recognition of exceptional service, achievement, and distinction, The University of Winnipeg presents a variety of awards to deserving members of the University and wider community at our Convocation ceremonies.  Learn more about our 122nd Convocation.