Outstanding Graduating Student Award in Anthropology and winner of the Usamah Ansari Top Student Award
I am profoundly surprised and humbled to receive the SFU Anthropology Graduand and Usamah Ansari awards. Both were entirely unexpected and represent a significant validation of my later life decision to pursue a post-secondary education. I retired early from a successful career, and have faced frequent questions from people who did not understand why I would pursue a degree that was unrelated to career advancement but, for me, this was not about careers and opportunities. The lack of a university education has been a multi-decades long regret, now resolved.
I did not have any specific academic goals, except to absorb and fully participate in whatever drew my interest. I told people I planned to take ‘ologies’: anthropology, sociology, archeology, psychology, criminology and history. This is exactly what I did. Along the way, I had a moment of revelation in John Bogardus’ SA201W class, when I suddenly realized that studying Anthropology would give me a theoretical framework for my lifelong interest in peoples’ stories and motivations. My first Labour Studies elective provided the inspiration to pursue courses that would allow me to learn about the wider social forces at work to create the many events I had either participated in, or been affected by throughout my life. We think we understand what is happening around us, but a study of the broader view can be highly revealing, and this is the life enrichment I found in all of my classes.
Despite receiving encouragement to continue with a Master’s program, I do not intend to go on. I have achieved the goal I set for myself many years ago. However, I am not finished learning and if I ever feel inclined to return to university, I will do it with a great deal more confidence and assurance that I will be supported and encouraged to do the best possible work I am capable of achieving.
My grateful thanks go to all members of the SFU community who assisted my learning. These include my fellow students, sessional instructors, guest lecturers, professors and other SFU staff.