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Family milestones

Grandfather and granddaughter receive Memorial honours during convocation week

special feature: Class of 2023

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Susan White

A business graduate is sharing her convocation with another special occasion for her family.

Selby Freeman, a white man in his early 80s, and Allison Knee, a white woman in her early 20s, stand together with their arms around each other and smiling. There are trees in the background, out of focus.
From left, Selby Freeman is celebrating 50 years since his graduation from Memorial University. His granddaughter Allison Knee will collect her bachelor of business administration (honours) degree during convocation ceremonies on Oct. 19.
Photo: Submitted

Allison Knee is receiving a bachelor of business administration (BBA) (honours) degree during Memorial University’s fall convocation ceremonies this week.

And on Oct. 15, her grandfather, Selby Freeman, was part of the President’s Golden Celebration, which recognized alumni celebrating 50 years or more of graduation from Memorial University.

“It’s pretty cool for our family to have that.” — Allison Knee

Mr. Freeman graduated from Memorial University in 1973 with a bachelor of arts degree in education.

“It’s pretty cool for our family to have that, both of us to have something like that in the same week,” said Ms. Knee, who grew up in St. John’s.

Ms. Knee will cross the convocation stage on Oct. 19 at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s. Her grandfather will be in the auditorium looking on as his granddaughter collects her parchment.

“It’s wonderful,” added Mr. Freeman. “I’m excited to come in.”

Selby Freeman is pictured in a vintage photograph, showing him as a young man in his mid 20s with a convocation robe and hood on his shoulders and a bowtie.
Selby Freeman’s Memorial convocation photo from half a century ago.
Photo: Submitted

Mr. Freeman spent his career teaching at Port Rexton High School.

He retired after 25 years in the profession.

He lives in Champney’s West with his wife, Margaret.

“It’s changed so much in there, I hope it’s not too intimidating. It was very simple when I attended there,” he said about returning to St. John’s campus.

“We have a really good relationship,” Mr. Freeman added of his relationship with his granddaughter. “We have a lot of fun.”

High achiever

Ms. Knee has been an ambitious student at the Faculty of Business Administration.

In addition to her BBA degree, she’s also pursuing a bachelor of science in economics and expects to graduate from that program next year.

She’s been on the Dean’s List at both the business faculty and the Faculty of Science multiple times and won Chevron Canada Ltd. Endowed Scholarships in Business, Earth Sciences, Economics and Engineering from 2021-23.

At the business faculty, she also won the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Scholarship in Business Administration.

Ms. Knee has brought her academic prowess to the broader community as well, serving as a member of Memorial’s Law Society in 2022, where she won first place in a local mooting competition.

In 2022 she won the undergraduate division of the Fraser Institute Student Essay Contest, beating students from across North America.

Her essay, A Smithian View of COVID-19 and Canada’s Public Debt, was subsequently published in the Fraser Institute’s Canadian Student Review.

Ms. Knee’s essay was supervised by Dr. Kam Hon Chu, a professor in the Department of Economics, whom she calls a “mentor.”

“It was a good paper. I was very proud of how the paper turned out,” she said. “I guess they agreed!”

Turning point

COVID-19 was a turning point for not only the world, but also for Ms. Knee’s academic journey.

She began her studies with a major in chemistry but didn’t enjoy the experience of taking labs online.

“… when I found economics and business, I was like, ‘Oh, this is it. This is what I wanted.’” — Allison Knee

That led her to try some business courses.

“I was looking for something that might be a better fit for me because I found labs weren’t really my thing,” she said. “So when I found economics and business, I was like, ‘Oh, this is it. This is what I wanted.’”

Ms. Knee declared a business degree and switched her science major to economics.

She plans to continue her academic aspirations post-graduation with a master’s degree and eventually, a career in academia.

She currently works as a teaching assistant and research assistant for Dr. Chansoo Park in the Faculty of Business Administration and as a research assistant for Dr. Nikita Lyssenko in the Department of Economics.

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