Sept. 5, 2018

Advice to Class of 2022: 'You do your own thing, but we are all connected'

Induction Ceremony speakers set the stage for a memorable first year
4,500 new University of Calgary students took part in a pep rally during the Induction Ceremony. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Entering university, students will be challenged unlike any other challenge they’ve faced in life before. But there is a whole community ready to help support them in moving forward.

That was the message from Ian MacNairn, special guest speaker at Tuesday’s Induction Ceremony welcoming more than 8,000 new students to the University of Calgary.

“The way forward is always with one another. We all need to work together and be supportive of each other on our journey,” said MacNairn, who is completing his PhD in community-building with plans to start a medical degree soon.

“Running is a solitary pursuit, just like your own studies. You do your own thing, but we are all connected. The way we get through an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree or an ultramarathon is to work together,” said MacNairn, who shared his story of overcoming incredible adversity — having to learn to walk again after being run over in a pedestrian crosswalk at the end of his first year of studies at UCalgary — and going from walking to running ultramarathons and becoming a professional athlete travelling the world.

Keynote speaker Ian MacNairn shares his journey and encourages the students.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

MacNairn’s message was shared by all who spoke at the Induction Ceremony, which was kicked off by a lively pep rally and faculty cheer-off, a bagpiper piping in the platform party, and Traditional Knowledge Keeper, elder Kelly Good Eagle from Siksika First Nation, helping welcome the students with a prayer song and blessing.

“This is your new university family. Over the next few years, you’ll discover new knowledge, make new friends, and experience many opportunities,” said President Elizabeth Cannon. “Take advantage of it — make the most of your time with us.”

Deborah Yedlin, UCalgary's recently appointed 14th chancellor, also emphasized the importance of getting to know other people — not only people in the same program, but also those in other faculties and disciplines.

From left: Sagar Grewal, Deborah Yedlin, Kelly Good Eagle, and Dru Marshall.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

“Think of the next four years as a marathon, not a sprint,” Yedlin said. “Slow down, and enjoy every minute.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who addressed the students by video, noted: “Every one of you has the opportunity to have a huge impact.” He encouraged each student to do three things, big or small, to help their community in the coming year. “What are the three things you’re going to do that are going to make a huge difference?” Nenshi asked.

And as Students' Union President Sagar Grewal noted: “You have the power to create change by getting involved.”

President Elizabeth Cannon invites students to make the most of their time on campus.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

A total of 8,013 new undergraduate students representing 116 countries, including Canada, are attending UCalgary. The international country with the highest representation of new students is China. Canadian students come from 10 provinces and two territories. Apart from Alberta, the province with the highest number of student representation is B.C. and the class of 2022 includes two students from P.E.I. Sir Winston Churchill was the Calgary high school with the highest number of enrolling students. The most popular male name among first-year students is Matthew, while the most popular female name is Jessica. The oldest incoming student is 71 and the youngest, 16.

Students left the Induction Ceremony smiling and looking forward to the year to come.

“It was very welcoming. I feel inspired to do whatever I want to – and to live a life that I’m proud of,” said Calgarian Kayla Lee, who is enrolled in the Faculty of Science.

“It’s exciting. It was a lot of fun – a good way to start the year off,” said Nigel Wedin, who hails from Victoria and is starting a Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and Society.