University of Calgary

Sleep-deprived dad gives award-winning oral presentation one day after his baby was born

UToday HomeJune 12, 2013

Thomas Clements and his son Samson dress up to celebrate a remarkable week.Thomas Clements and his son Samson dress up to celebrate a remarkable week. Photos courtesy Thomas Clements
Thomas Clements and his son Samson dress up to celebrate a remarkable week. Photos courtesy Thomas Clements
Thomas Clements had an inkling it was going to be one heck of a week.

There was a final exam, and the oral presentation for his year-long independent studies project in biological sciences in the Faculty of Science. Then there was another important matter — his wife’s due date with their first child.

The memorable chain of events started at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2, when Clements’ wife, Chelsea, woke him to say it was time to get to the hospital to have the baby. His professors knew he might have to skip out if his baby turned out to be the punctual sort.

Tuesday turned into Wednesday. After a long, difficult labour, Clements’ son, Samson, was born. “He had a high heart rate and his temperature wouldn’t come down, so about two minutes after he was born, they said we have to take him to the neonatal unit and they did a whole big long battery of tests,” says Clements. “They even gave him a lumbar puncture, which was quite scary for us.”

But everything turned out okay. Clements managed a couple of hours of sleep on the floor of his wife’s hospital room Wednesday night. He set off Thursday morning to present his research into metal oxide nanoparticles, and promptly fell asleep waiting his turn. After being nudged awake, Clements got up and aced the 15 minute presentation, winning one of the two best presentation awards for biochemistry students.

“To be 100 per cent honest, I don’t really remember what I said. I had prepared quite well for it so I think at that point it was just the work I had put in kicked in, and my body remembered what my brain didn’t.” The former Dinos football player also managed to share a picture of his baby. “Everyone thought he was cute.”

Clements is entering the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary this summer with a healthy baby boy and a whole new perspective on stress. “I had just watched my wife go through childbirth and an honours presentation didn’t seem that stressful to me. It did not scare me anymore,” he says.

“It’s just one of those things in life that makes you realize there are things that are so much more important than your career, or anything else.”

 

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