ICYMI: A recap of STU valedictorian debates

    Patrice Cammarano, David Eno and Victoria Young debated their platforms in the race for this year's valedictorian. (Collage by Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    The St. Thomas University Students’ Union hosted its valedictorian debate in advance of the spring election on March 10 and 11. The candidates debated their platforms and took questions from the audience Tuesday afternoon.

    Victoria Young is a fourth-year student from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was vice-president of the STU Debate Society in her first year and president in her second. She was STUSU’s at-large representative and went on to become STUSU’s vice-president student life. She is a representative on the University Women’s Centre and is on the City of Fredericton post-secondary relations committee.

    • In her written platform, she outlines that she wants to pay tribute to the university, students and community as well as representing the entire class experience and excellence.
    • She has experience with public speaking since one of her hobbies is debate and public speaking competitions.
    • She was a public speaking judge and coach is high school debate tournaments.
    • She wants to recognize in her speech that international students have different experiences and challenges. She said equity, diversity and inclusion are the backbone of campus.
    • She wants to consult with a variety of graduating STU students to ensure she represents the minority population. She will create a forum for students to request quotes, memories or talk about struggles they faced.

    David Eno is a fourth-year international student from Lagos, Nigeria. He is a self-published author, was a key speaker at the recent STU Leads conference, served as as STU Cares volunteer and received a community action grant that will help him volunteer with children in the community.

    • In his written platform, he outlined that STU gave students the opportunity to transition from “timid teens/young adults” to “assured and secured versions of ourselves.” He wants his valedictory speech to emphasize that.
    • Eno said the culture shock from moving to Canada was great and immersing himself in a different environment got him to where he is today.
    • He did five years of theatre, was in Model United Nations and participated in various debates and presentations.
    • He was recently a keynote speaker where he outlined his passion for advocacy, specifically women’s rights. He said he’s an advocate for minority rights and issues of equality and diversity are close to his heart.
    • He wants to open the floor to everyone’s suggestions for his speech in order to better represent everybody’s views. He said he’s willing to incorporate everything graduating students need so his speech represents the graduating class as a whole.

    Patrice Cammarano is a fourth-year student from Fredericton, New Brunswick. He co-founded STU Mental Health Society, a Moot Court member, STU track captain, a member of campus committees like grad class committee and a volunteer for different campus events like welcome week.

    • In his written platform, he outlines that students faced barriers like online learning through the pandemic, but that their collective efforts helped them overcome those barriers. He wants to share that story.
    • Cammarano said as a member of Moot Court, he’s used to being questioned and talking to higher-ups while under stress.
    • He is also an actor, podcast host, conference speaker and delivered mental health talks across New Brunswick.
    • He wants to encompass the diversity that makes up the STU community. He said he will ensure his speech is not “his speech” but the speech of the graduating class using memories, anecdotes and quotes.

    Audience questions

    Victoria Young

    • She would like to collaborate with the STU International Students’ Association to ensure her speech represents the voices of international students.
    • Her fondest memory at STU is the welcome week paint fight.
    • She would use her previously mentioned forum to speak with different campus groups and hear their voices.

    David Eno

    • He said it is important that international students’ struggles are acknowledged in his speech. As an international student, he understands the struggles they face throughout their degrees.
    • His fondest memory at STU is his first job through the STU experiential learning program.
    • He said he’s open to all suggestions for his speech to properly represent the graduating class as a whole.

    Patrice Cammarano

    • He wants to approach international students and give them the opportunity to share their story which he would incorporate in his speech.
    • He said his fondest memory at STU is falling in love.
    • He said all minorities deserve a voice in the valedictorian address. He said he knows the importance of representing minorities “coming from a francophone minority.” He said he knows “how hard it can be to go unnoticed.”