Ladysmith Secondary School grads recognized

Three recent Ladysmith Secondary School graduates were presented with Governor General's Academic Medals on Dec. 21.

Risa Convey (Class of 2012)

Ladysmith Secondary School’s top-ranked graduate for 2012 is directing her talents and nimble grey matter toward a rather suitable topic of study.

Risa Convey, recipient of LSS’s Governor General’s Academic Medal (GGAM) for 2012, is currently enrolled as a first-year neuroscience student at the University of Calgary (U of C).

Convey credited a research internship with the Heart and Stroke Foundation during the summer of 2011 with sparking her interest in neuroscience. For three weeks that summer, Convey assisted PhD students at the University of British Columbia with an investigation into the effects of stroke on patients’ brains. She was hooked, she said, and as soon as she learned that U of C offered neuroscience as an undergraduate degree option, she decided to apply.

For now, Convey said her plan is to complete her neuroscience degree before applying to medicine, adding that her choice of major offers her an advantage over medical school applicants from other fields of study.

“The success rate of neuroscience kids getting into med school is 50 per cent,” said Convey, “compared to only five per cent for biomed students.”

Convey found out she’d been named as LSS’s 2012 GGAM winner when her father texted her one afternoon during the week of final exams to tell her the news.

“I was really excited,” Convey said of the revelation. “I’d honestly never heard of it before, but it made more sense to me when I heard that Eli and Jenna were receiving awards for the last few years, too.”

Convey visited LSS Friday, Dec. 21 with fellow alumni members Eli Battie and Jenna Saffin to receive their GGAMs from principal Dave Street.

Battie, LSS’s 2011 GGAM winner, took leave from basic training to return home to Ladysmith for Christmas.

Private Battie said he attended the University of Victoria’s engineering program last year, but it left him feeling restless.

“I needed a change and I needed to do something real,” Battie added, “because engineering didn’t feel right.”

Battie enrolled with the Canadian Forces and headed east to Quebec. He said he’ll have an additional month of training to complete when he returns to the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean, Que., before moving on to four months of “battle school.”

Come April, Battie said he’ll have to choose between further coursework or deployment.

Further schooling and an officer’s role both factor into Battie’s plans for a military career, he said, but for now, he’ll focus on the new experiences military life brings his way.

Saffin, LSS’s top graduate for 2010, is now enrolled on full scholarship as an arts and sciences student at Quest University Canada in Squamish.

Quest’s curriculum is designed in such a way that learning is custom-tailored to individual students. Saffin’s education revolves around her quest for insight into the role of empathy in medicine, and her coursework involves both prerequisites for medical school and experiential learning aimed at granting her an understanding of cross-cultural perspectives related to healthcare.

Saffin said she’ll spend the summer in Kerala — a state on India’s southwest coast — working with Child Family Health International and Pallium India to research local approaches to palliative care, adding that she’s incredibly excited by the opportunity to study in India.

Bronze Governor General’s Academic Medals are awarded on the basis of a student’s cumulative average for all of their grade 11 and 12 coursework. One bronze medal — silver medals apply to undergraduate university students while gold medals are awarded to those who’ve completed a graduate program — is  awarded each year to the top student of every secondary school in the country.

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