By Bevan Hamilton 
BELLEVILLE – Going to college while you’re young and single is hard enough. Kristina Boudreau faced the task of making it through college while also mothering three children.
Boudreau received her Personal Support Worker diploma Thursday at the Loyalist College convocation ceremony. The ceremony was the first of four the college is hosting Thursday and Friday .
Boudreau, a Frankford native, said graduation day was an accomplishment because of the challenges she faced.
“Juggling school and the three children was really difficult. I’m not sure how I made it work, but I did,” said a smiling Boudreau as two of her children stood by quietly.
Boudreau was one of 321 students who crossed the stage on Thursday morning. Loyalist College says 2,070 students will graduate over both days. There were more than 200 more graduates last year.
The convocation was held at a packed Loyalist College Dining Hall. Bagpipes ushered the students in and out of the ceremony.
Rodney Skinkle gave the convocation address. Skinkle – a 1979 Loyalist Behavioural Science graduate – is the president and CEO of Academica Group, a company that researches higher education.
Skinkle spoke for fifteen minutes, sharing his experiences with the students.
Among his pieces of advice was “ready, fire, aim!”
Skinkle told students they can’t wait to have everything perfect in this fast-paced world before they do something.
“You get ready, you launch, and you tweak and fine-tune as you go.”
Loyalist College president Maureen Piercy also addressed the students.
“So many people lament the fact that there are so few heroes today, but that’s not true,” Piercy said during her speech. “You and the 35,000 Loyalist graduates who have gone ahead of you are my heroes because you are making life better for people, their communities, and their organizations everyday.”
Boudreau wasn’t the only one who faced challenges getting to graduation day. Sarah McMeekin, a developmental services graduate, chose Loyalist even though her home is in Owen Sound.
“Being far away from my family made it difficult because I had to try to find my own support network here,” McMeekin said. One of her classmates, Lindsay Cowan, also graduated Thursday.
Cowan said the hardest part was overcoming obstacles like lack of transportation and money as well as balancing her schoolwork with her job outside of school.
After the convocation ceremony, a reception was held in the Parrott Centre at the college.
Provincial Liberal candidate Georgina Thompson attended the graduation and briefly stopped in at the reception to congratulate graduates.
The convocation ceremonies continue Thursday afternoon, with two more Friday to conclude the graduating class of 2014.