Students reflect on undergraduate experiences
“It just feels like the end of another year. I haven’t grasped the fact that I’m not coming back,” one soon-to-be Guelph graduate was overheard saying before the start of the Student Life event, the Last Lecture, that took place on April 4.
Several hundred students gathered in War Memorial Hall for the event, which presented the graduating class a chance to reflect on their past several years at the University of Guelph. The Last Lecture featured three speakers – graduating student Oleksiy Zaika, faculty member Dr. Coral Murrant, and alumna Silvia Ruegger.
The event’s theme was based on a quote by Henry David Thoreau: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Brenda Whiteside, associate VP of Student Affairs and a Guelph alumna herself, set the mood in her opening speech.
“As you enter the next phase of your life, I encourage you to be engaged, to be present, and to be involved,” Whiteside said while addressing the crowd.
Zaika spoke on the typical Guelph student experience, joking, “We’ve written enough notes to build a very large fire.” Zaika graduates from the Biomedical Science program.
In line with the theme of the event, Zaika spoke about how mistakes inform our perspectives on life. Zaika has experienced this first-hand.
“I’ve had my struggles trying to find a balance between my life and academics.” The biggest lesson he learned here at Guelph was to take his time and appreciate every moment.
Murrant took the event’s quote literally and jovially began lecturing on the physiology of vision. After the laughter subsided, she turned to her own post-Guelph experience in studying blood vessels, and high blood pressure during pregnancies – a condition called pre-eclampsia.
Her research took a very personal turn – Murrant’s own sister developed pre-eclampsia and lost two pregnancies.
“I had found my mountain,” said Murrant.
Though her “mountain” was based on a very unfortunate circumstance, she urged students to find something they are passionate about and ended by quoting Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go.
Silvia Ruegger, a Guelph alumna and Olympian, spoke next.
“As a teenager, I had a dream to be an Olympian. I saw the 1976 Olympics on TV, and I went upstairs and wrote on a piece of paper that I would run in the Olympics.” In 1984, Ruegger ran in the first-ever Olympic Women’s Marathon in Los Angeles and got eighth place.
After Ruegger’s retirement from competitive running, she developed physical fitness and literacy programs for impoverished children, and brought mentors and role models into their lives.
“To live a life of vision, everything you need is inside of you. You need to be courageous. Persevere, don’t give up, and empower others with your life,” said Ruegger, a statement that will surely stay with the graduating class of 2013.
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