Voices from the Class will inspire Lakehead University graduates

May 30, 2018 – Thunder Bay, ON

Lakehead University graduates will receive important words of wisdom from three exceptional students at this year’s convocation ceremonies on Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2 at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium.

Photo of Lisa Tocheri.

Lisa Tocheri is speaking on Friday, June 1 at 2 pm.

During her three years studying in Lakehead’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Tocheri learned practical skills that will help her find success as a lawyer.

“This does not just refer to knowing how to do my job, but other things such as communicating with clients, having confidence in myself, working with colleagues on projects or files, and so on,” Tocheri said.

“At Lakehead we get to immerse ourselves into the practicality of our careers. We are taught not just to know the work we’re doing, but to also know the job we hold and how to be successful both inside and outside of the workplace.”

One challenge she faced at the beginning of her studies was the inclination to compare herself to classmates, especially since Lakehead has smaller class sizes than other universities.

“Everyone discusses work, grades or accomplishments with each other, so it’s hard to not compare yourself academically to another student,” Tocheri said. “To assist with this our professors would instead encourage us to work together and understand that in the real world you have to be on a team with your colleagues. It’s more important to be supportive of each other so that everyone can be successful.”

 Her speech will focus on how Lakehead has provided her with various life lessons or “keys to success” that are non-academic related.

“You don’t really realize until you graduate that you’ve not only learned the work that you were taught in class, but you also have gained so much knowledge in your development as a person and who you want to be in your career. We’re not just taught what is in the books, we’re taught how to grow and thrive as individuals in the workplace and in our daily lives.”

Tocheri plans to work in a law firm after graduation.

“I want to ensure I am always advocating for access to justice and that whoever I help can get the legal assistance they need.”


Sabeera Azhar is speaking on Saturday, June 2 at 9:30 am.

Photo of Sabeera Azhar.Azhar is graduating from Lakehead University’s Honours Bachelor of Commerce program, majoring in Accounting. She will also receive the President’s Award during convocation for occupying a position of responsibility in student organizations and for her activities and achievements.

Her speech will focus on graduates being the leaders of tomorrow and that they must lead the change they want to see in the world.

“I believe leadership is a key skill for all graduates to have,” she said. “Due to the small class sizes, my professors were able to challenge me starting in first year, which gave me the opportunity to develop and grow. 

“Accounting is an industry that is always changing and evolving and Lakehead has allowed me to become resilient and be at the forefront of that change.”

 In February of this year, Azhar travelled to Toronto with three third-year students for the ACHIEVE competition, where the team came in first place. This year’s competition dealt with persevering in the face of pressure from superiors to bend the rules.

She felt humbled to be the only fourth-year student chosen to participate on behalf of Lakehead, especially after they won.

It was honestly a surreal moment,” she said, adding that she participated in the ACHIEVE competition in 2017 as well.

“It was a bit daunting (the first year). We didn't place or win that year, but I learned a lot and made some amazing memories.

“So when I was selected to go to the competition as a fourth-year student, I was excited and up to the challenge. Of course, credit goes to the whole team. We couldn't have won without the hard work of all team members.”

 The ACHIEVE competition taught her that leadership is about being flexible by adapting to your environment.

“Throughout the competition we were put in challenging roles, which meant we had to take into account the strengths and weaknesses of all team members in order to be successful. Another thing I learned was that being a leader means you have to communicate with those around you,” she said.   

A message she would give to her first-year self is “to not stress too much about school and enjoy the little things in life.”

“Everything will work out as it was written by God,” she said. “Back in first year, crossing that stage at graduation seemed daunting, but now I will soon do just that. I am excited to see what the future holds for me.”

Azhar currently works full-time at an accounting firm in Thunder Bay. She plans to earn her Certified Public Accountant designation by returning to Lakehead University for the Graduate Diploma in Accounting program in September. 


Shelby Rooney is speaking on Saturday, June 2 at 2 pm. Rooney transferred to Lakehead University in her second year of studying political science.

At the beginning of Rooney’s first semester at Lakehead, Dr. Zubairu Wai realized that she hadn't been in the first-year Political Science course that he teaches and asked her to meet in his office.

“He personally welcomed me to the department, asked if there was anything he could do to ease the transition for me, and told me his door was always open if I had any questions or issues,” she said.

She also became involved at the Gender Equity Centre soon after transferring to Lakehead.

“It not only gave me great work experience, but I was quickly welcomed into the LUSU community.”

Rooney said getting involved on campus helped her make friends and made her feel more comfortable at Lakehead University.

“Having professors that took the time to reach out reassured me that I would be supported academically.”

Her involvement at Lakehead helped develop her organizational and communication skills, as well as her ability to work effectively within a team.

“These skills and experiences have helped me and will continue to help as I move forward into professional work environments. I was also able to meet great friends and mentors who have guided and supported me in both academic and personal decisions throughout my university career.”   

Rooney, who will start her Juris Doctor degree at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law this fall, will use her speech to describe how Lakehead's supportive community and small class sizes provide a great advantage for students.

“At Lakehead, students are able to really get to know their classmates and form meaningful relationships with professors. This network of support is immensely valuable for students to take with them when they graduate,” she said.     



– 30 –



Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Communications and Marketing Associate, at (807) 343-8177 or mediarelations@lakeheadu.ca.




Lakehead University has approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. Maclean’s 2018 University Rankings place Lakehead University among Canada's Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, as well as first in Total Research Dollars, second for Citations, and third for Scholarships and Bursaries. In 2017, Research Infosource named Lakehead Research University of the Year in its category for the third consecutive year. Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.