A glimpse of our grads
Posted on June 2, 2017 by Tia Lalani
Hear from a handful of Augustana graduates on how their passions led to them to their chosen degree programs, and the exciting plans they have ahead.
With convocation fast approaching, one can’t help but be swept up in the excitement of a day that encompasses so much hard work and determination gone by, and so much promise and hope still to come.
For a sneak peek of all of the passion and effort that has been poured into each degree received by the 120 graduates walking the stage this Sunday, June 4, look to the stories below, where you’ll find a smattering of graduates whose future plans are as varied as their personalities.
Augustana is proud of all of its graduates, and hope that we are just one small part of what will continue to be a successful future.
For Camrose native Allyson Wrubleski, medical school was always the plan.
“Medicine was the idea from the beginning, though I thought about other things over the course of my degree” Allyson explained, radiating easy conversation and good humour, assets that will surely aid her when she begins her training at the University of Alberta’s North campus next fall.
Although Allyson’s path was set from the beginning, her undergraduate research and volunteer opportunities helped to cement her goals and make them a reality. Obtaining a bachelor of sports studies in kinesiology and physical education allowed Allyson to investigate her interests while still taking the prerequisites required for medical school admission.
In a Women in Sports class with professor Yvonne Becker, Allyson was glad to learn that the faraway concepts she ruminated on in high school, such as feminism and marginalization, were whole streams of study that she could readily participate in. In her fourth year, Allyson completed a directed reading with Becker on the factors that contribute to rural adolescent girls’ participation in physical activity, which Allyson credits as the highlight of her degree.
Her research, along with her time spent volunteering with the Augustana Queers and Allies club, and various women’s studies courses, gave Allyson a guiding vision while pursuing medical school, where she wants to have contact with and also advocate for marginalized groups.
“The LGBTQ community is really important to me, as are women in general who are often ostracized in the medical field,” Allyson explained. “I’d like to end up in a spot where I get to do that advocacy, and being a doctor will allow me the opportunity to give a voice to people who are left unheard.”
Allyson is also thankful for the chance to volunteer in the Camrose community, including work with a local physician, Dr Nichol, as well as in the medical tent at the country music festival Big Valley Jamboree, which reinforced her decision to pursue medical school. She also researched emergency medical technician and ultrasound technician work, nursing, and graduate school before deciding to apply to medicine at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.
“I feel very confident in my choice having looked at so many other paths,” Allyson said. “I always came back to what Dr Nichol was doing, everything always came back to medicine.”
Darby Branscombe, soft-spoken and immensely talented, will be walking the stage this Sunday to celebrate not only a bachelor of music but a published article, numerous recitals, a winning composition, the Augustana medal for the highest overall graduating grade point average, and a future as bright as the ivory keys on her piano.
Originally from Pierceland, Saskatchewan, Darby’s passion for music brought her to Augustana. Four years later, that same love of music will bring her back home again, as she plans on opening a piano studio in Prince Albert after graduation. Darby has always wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother who continues to teach piano in Pierceland.
It is in Pierceland that Darby’s interest in music began. Growing up, Darby learned piano from her mother and branched out to playing other instruments in high school, where Darby’s band, composed of herself, her sister, and her cousin, often traded their guitar and piano for a mandolin and accordion, to keep their audiences entertained.
Darby continued to expand her love of music with various courses at Augustana, where she chose to major in comprehensive music rather than just piano.
“I wanted to learn more about music in general, but also about teaching,” Darby mentioned, patiently explaining the differences between the two majors.
One of the more direct applications of Darby’s desire to be a dedicated teacher includes the article she had published in the Alberta Teachers’ Association Fall 2016 Newsletter on one-handed piano playing, which she hopes can act as a good resource for teachers who may have students that need one-handed music.
Darby also had the honour of having her piece “Frosted Panes” selected for the 2017 Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations Canada 150 Call for Compositions, which is now available online for download.
Darby looks forward to moving back to Saskatchewan to be a bit closer to her and her husband’s families, and hopes for a lot of students to get her practice off to a good start.
What does playing hockey and being a doctor have in common? More than one might think, according to the experiences of Dylan Coupal who will be graduating this Sunday with a bachelor of science and attending medical school at the University of Saskatchewan this fall.
Dylan credits hockey for fostering skills that will make him a good medical professional and that have allowed him to manage his time well throughout his undergraduate education, earning him the grades he needed to pursue medicine.
“My time playing hockey has made me confident that I can go into any kind of environment, especially a team environment like it would be in a hospital,” Dylan related, excited to be able to follow his next passion. “Hockey also forced me to be more disciplined in a way; it helped me to be successful at school more so than being a challenge because it required me to really plan ahead.”
Although he will be leaving the game behind competitively, Dylan is excited about returning home to Saskatchewan and having the opportunity to discover new passions in medical school by rotating through the different specialties. At the moment, Dylan is looking towards neurology and psychiatry as two subjects he came to enjoy through classes with psychology professor Tim Parker.
“I like where biology and psychology intersect and how that can be used in healthcare,” said the double-major.
Intersectionality is also important in other aspects of Dylan’s ideal career. Although he loves the idea of research, it’s the combination of practical one-on-one contact with new people every day while also being aware of and up-to-date on current studies in the healthcare field that attracts him to the position.
“Medicine is the best of both worlds in a way because you can tailor your experience. You can have a certain amount of individual patient contact, or focus more on behind the scenes stuff, like a lab specialty. I like that there are is opportunity for combination and variety.”
Randi Martin, a double major in visual art and psychology, will be heading out to Nelson, British Columbia this fall to pursue her passion for both areas in an art therapy program, one of only a handful of which exist in Canada. Armed with a bubbly personality, a vivacious thirst to understand people, and soon, a bachelor of arts degree, Randi couldn’t be happier with the path that has brought her to where she has always wanted to go.
Randi first discovered the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute when she was fourteen, and visited the campus last summer where her aspirations were confirmed. At the end of her interview in May, Randi was accepted to the Post-baccalaureate Art Therapy Diploma Program.
“It’s been a long process, like eight years getting there, but I’m excited,” she laughs. “I want it to be September already.”
Although art therapy was always the goal, Randi came into her studies more interested in the art side of the program, which shifted during the course of her degree. Surprised at how much she enjoyed her psychology classes, Randi began to take more and more of them, earning her a double major and a clearer vision of who she was as a person.
“I never thought I would care about psychology, but I’ve been really passionate about understanding people,” she explained. “Now I don’t know if I could choose one over the other.”
Having an interest in both art and psychology has made Randi the perfect candidate for the program of her dreams, but she also took on various leadership roles throughout her degree, which helped her to learn about who she was, and what she wanted.
Working with art history professor Andrea Korda on a research project involving learning with images in the nineteenth century allowed Randi to be confident in her research and communication skills, and running Augustana’s annual art show, alongside serving as the fine arts representative for faculty council since her second year emboldened her passion for the subject.
Although she enjoyed participating in research and perfecting her own artistic ability, it’s getting to know others that Randi is looking forward to the most.
“I could never be a full-time artist because the isolation would kill me,” she admits. “I love interacting with people, and I don’t think I could ever have a job where I don’t get that.”
Although Dariya Veenstra is not venturing further than across the city of Camrose to embark on her future, she could not be more excited. Set to receive a bachelor of art in history with a minor in classics, Dariya will continue to work as the museum coordinator at the Camrose and District Centennial Museum, a position she began just after finishing classes in April.
The museum offers school programs alongside year-round adult and community events, along with a “village” containing thirteen authentic replica and storage buildings and 85, 000 community artifacts.
“The Camrose and District Centennial Museum is a terrific little place and I’m very happy that my first ‘adult’ job is working there!” Dariya explains. “I didn’t think I would find a job in my field so quickly, so I was pleasantly surprised when they offered me the position.”
Dariya’s interest in history began as a little girl when spending time with her father also meant various museum visits. She continued in the pursuit of historical knowledge through research at Augustana, including a project on Lily May Strike, an Australian bigamist from the early twentieth century, which her professor and mentor Mélanie Méthot presented in San Diego at the 2017 Women’s History Conference.
Recently, Dariya also had the opportunity to travel to Vienna with professor Alexander Carpenter’s class on Austrian music and culture and was impressed with the number of historical sights they visited.
“It was a great way to end my degree, to be able to travel and learn beyond the classroom setting.”
From Augustana to Austria and back again, Dariya is looking forward to settling into the next chapter of her life, in an environment that speaks to her degree as much as her personal passion.
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