Fall 2010 Convocation student speakers

October 7, 2010

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Kevin Morgan
October 7, 9:45 a.m.

If SFU were ever looking for a poster boy for the benefits of a post-secondary education, it would find the perfect candidate in Kevin Morgan. He’s nothing if not passionate about higher learning, despite the challenges he’s faced during the past three years while earning his BA at the Surrey Campus.

Not only has the 42-year-old had to juggle family, raising two kids and working full-time as a Canada Revenue Agency regional manager, he’s also legally blind. "Between work, school and travel time by bus," Morgan admits, "I’d put in an 80- to 90-hour week."

Not that he’s complaining. His love of learning helped him secure an amazing 4.17 GPA in spite of the challenges. He attributes his academic success to his mom, who taught him to appreciate the power of education at an early age, and to the support of his family. "My wife in particular was an absolute rock, a champion in my corner," he says.

And he’s not finished yet. He’ll be calling on that same combination of passion and support when he goes for his master’s degree.

During his speech on Oct. 7, Morgan will talk about the transformative power of education.

Lindsay Galway
October 7, 2:45 p.m.

Ever noticed how modest people often have the most interesting things to say? Take Toronto native Lindsay Galway, who recently earned her master’s degree in public health and is the health science faculty’s first graduand. "I’ve been asked to reflect upon and talk about my experiences at SFU," she says, "but I don’t really like talking about myself."

It’s not for a lack of material. Galway has crammed more life experiences into her 28 years than many people twice her age: four years at McGill University working toward her BSc; six months with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama; and a stint in the Bolivian Andes working on an infant-and-child nutrition project and researching the lack of coordination among non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing health services there.

And she’s already making a practical difference in the world. Her research on NGOs not only became her master’s project, it’s also of interest to the Bolivian government and the international NGO community.

But she likely won’t have time to talk about all of this when she delivers her speech on Oct. 7. Always the consummate researcher, she’s centring her talk around conversations with fellow students—on what it means to them to graduate.

Brent Seal
October 8, 9:45 a.m.

Standing firm against a speeding hockey puck takes guts. But it’s nothing compared to the courage it takes to keep moving forward in the face of a debilitating mental illness.

Just ask Brent Seal. As a teenager, he played goalie for the Chilliwack Chiefs in the elite and highly competitive Junior A league. As an adult, he overcame severe bouts of mental illness to earn a business degree.

"I’m proud of my hockey career," Seal says, "but I learned a lot more about myself, what I’m capable of, during my years as a student with mental-health issues."

His mental illness went undiscovered during his first year at the University of Northern BC in 2004 and the University of the Fraser Valley. But he had a psychotic episode his first semester after transferring to SFU and a relapse in 2007.

Persevering, he found the correct medicine, and with the support of family, friends and mentors, as well as SFU’s health and counseling department, he earned his degree.

He also left a legacy for others in his shoes, founding SFU’s Students for Mental Illness Club, one of the first of its kind in Canada.

Seal’s speech on Oct. 8 will feature themes of moral courage and the power of positive relationships.

Sue Dritmanis

October 8, 2:45 p.m.

If you ask education master’s degree graduand, Sue Dritmanis, what’s changed since her early-1980s undergrad years she’ll tell you everything. And nothing.

Back then, with a BFA from UBC in hand and no dependents to worry about, she moved to Ottawa’s Carleton University to study journalism before embarking on a successful career as a writer and magazine editor with Homemaker’s, Canadian Living, Vancouver and Western Living.

Fast forward to 2008. After launching a magazine publishing program at Capilano University and falling in love with teaching, she decided to return to school. With a husband and 10-year-old twins, a full workload and a home to look after, at times her experience as a mature student bore no resemblance at all to her relatively carefree academic journey three decades ago. "The past two years have been a blur," she says. "I missed half the kids’ soccer games and was one grumpy, tired mom on Sunday mornings."

But for all the differences, some things never change. "The friendships you make, the critical thinking skills you acquire, the confidence you build, these endure," says Dritmanis, "and they’re what make the experience truly worthwhile."

In her speech on Oct. 8, Dritmanis will be drawing other comparisons between her time as a student in the ’80s and in the new millennium.


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