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As the December equinox approaches, with its promise of longer daylight ahead for our northern hemisphere, I am struck by the number and diversity of cultural and religious holidays celebrated at this time of year.

Whether Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Shia, Shinto, Sikh, Sunni, Wicca/Pagan, Zoroastrian-or other denomination –  starting with the Sunni and Shia November 20-21 celebrations of Mawlid el-Nabi, continuing through Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and ending with Chinese New Year – each of us has reason to celebrate and also to reflect on the inexorable passage of time.

For my family and me, this year’s winter holiday will be a poignant time as we look back on the extraordinary years we have spent at Pearson College UWC. This family photo taken on the lawn overlooking Pedder Bay when we first started in summer 2015 is a powerful reminder of how much has changed in the last four and a half years!

Désirée McGraw with husband Chris and their two sons in 2015

Along with my husband Chris and our two boys, Jack and Michael, I will always appreciate these special years spent here on Pedder Bay. And we are so very grateful to all who have been part of the adventure!

As many of you are aware, I will be leaving the College on 31 December for personal reasons and returning to our beloved Montreal in 2020 to be with our family. I will also be taking up a new position: one that will allow me to pursue my passion – indeed my vocation – for working across generations to address some of the most critical challenges facing Canada and the world.

While we will be sad to leave Pedder Bay, we will forever carry with us this magical place and its people. Since I assumed the role of President and Head of College, I am so proud of what we have accomplished together. With gratitude and humility, I will be addressing these collective achievements in my upcoming – and final – President’s Update.

‘The Pearson Experience’ has truly been transformative for me, and one that has stretched me in every way possible. I have been truly blessed. It has been an honour to serve the extended Pearson family: above all to live and learn alongside our students, but also our tremendous faculty, staff, alumni, volunteers, donors and supporters as well as our Board of Directors. It has been a particular honour to serve under the leadership of two outstanding Chairs: Tony Macoun and Anne McLellan – both of whom will remain personal role models and mentors.

I cannot find adequate words to express my admiration of this extraordinary and inspiring ‘collective’ nor to thank each of them for their support, encouragement and counsel throughout our wonderful adventure together.  Thanks to this amazing community, I believe Pearson College’s future shines brighter than ever!

We often quote our namesake, The Honourable Lester B. Pearson. I cannot think of a better wish for Pearson College and the UWC community than the one he expressed on the eve of Canada’s centennial year:

We [now] begin a new chapter in our…story.  Let the record of that chapter be
one of co-operation and not conflict; of dedication and not division; of service, not self;
of what we can give, not what we can get. Let us work together…to make
our [world-wide community] worthy of its honoured past and certain of its proud future.

My family and I wish you joyous holidays and a year 2020 filled with peace, purpose, health and happiness.

Désirée McGraw
President & Head of College