As her career continues to soar, Selkirk College will recognize Contemporary Music & Technology Program grad Kiesza with the honour of Distinguished Alumna at the Graduation 2016 Ceremony on Friday afternoon at the Castlegar Campus.
A member of the Selkirk College Class of 2009, Kiesza has taken the music world by storm over the last two years. Her hit “Hideaway” propelled her to the top of the music charts across the planet in April, 2014 and she has followed it up with a major label album release, three Juno Awards and sold-out shows across the world.
This past November, Selkirk College graduate Kiesza returned to Nelson where she performed at Gala 2015 with Contemporary Music & Technology Program students. At Graduation 2016 on Friday, the member of the Class of 2009 will be honoured as a Distinguished Alumna.
To recognize her achievements and continued support of her alma mater, Selkirk College will include Kiesza in a group of graduates that help inspire others towards excellence in their chosen post-graduation careers.
“It's a great honour to receive this award, especially because of how special my experience at Selkirk College was,” says Kiesza.
This past November, Kiesza returned to Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus for a week where she focused on sharing her success at the location that helped plant important roots for the future. She provided workshops for current students, performed with students at the sold-out Selkirk College Gala 2015 and raised funds at a special Sunday all-ages afternoon show in Mary Hall to bolster a scholarship that has been started in her name.
A Standout Student from the Start
While Kiesza was in Nelson for the week, music program instructor Gilles Parenteau says it reminded him about what makes his former student so special.
“What stands out is her generosity,” says Parenteau, who has taught at Selkirk College for more than two decades. “It is not a put-on act, Kiesza has a gift other than music and that gift is giving. You cannot help being mesmerized by her positive energy and enthusiastic look on life.”
Kiesza considers Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology Program instructors Gilles Parenteau one of her most important mentors.
Kiesza returns the respect for Parenteau, who she continually praises in interviews with media from around the world.
“Learning from my incredible teacher Gilles Parenteau,” Kiesza says when asked about highlights from her two years of study at Selkirk College. “He is one of the kindest and most inspirational people I have ever met, and I will always be grateful for the support he continue to give me to this day. He's the one that truly deserves an award.”
With a hectic schedule that shows no sign of slowing down, Kiesza is unable to attend Friday’s ceremony. The 27-year-old is currently at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival where she performed with electronic music superstars Skrillex and Diplo over the weekend. Last week she was in New York City performing at the Barclays Centre with Duran Duran.
A Message to the Class of 2016
The honour will be accepted on her behalf, but she delivered this message to the Class of 2016.
“Be bold. Be different,” she says. “Work harder than you think you can. Don't be negative... ever. Support the people around you, don't be jealous of them. Surround yourself with people that challenge you and help you to grow. Stop judging people, it's pointless and drains your creative energy. If you hit a dead end, don't stop, don't complain... change directions and keep going. Speak ill of no one. Get used to the journey, because so long as there's air in your lungs, there is no destination. Be good to yourself. Be healthy. Be happy. Allow yourself to love yourself. Invite change. Create constantly... creativity is the only way forward. Believe there is nothing you can't do.”
As part of the annual graduation festivities, Selkirk College will also be honouring educational pioneers Craig Andrews and Judy Pollard with Distinguished Educator awards. The Graduation 2016 Ceremony takes place starting at 12:30 p.m. on the Castlegar Campus.