McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Thu, 07/18/2024 - 18:12

Gradual reopening continues on downtown campus. See Campus Public Safety website for details.

La réouverture graduelle du campus du centre-ville se poursuit. Complément d'information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention.

A Word from Juliet Morrison, 2024 Arts Valedictorian

We've asked this year's Arts Valedictorians to share their thoughts and insights on their academic journey at McGill.

Entering McGill, I was so excited to immerse myself in campus life and meet curious, passionate students from all over the world. Of course, having ¾ of my classes be pre-recorded lectures amid the pandemic made me initially doubtful that I would get any of the college experience I craved.

My first-year self, though, would be thrilled if she could glimpse what was ahead of her. After four years, McGill has gone from seeming huge and overwhelming to feeling small—filled with familiar faces and spaces that hold meaningful memories. From the joy of bonding with classmates in seminars and dancing with friends at Grad Ball, to the rush of writing my first Tribune article and learning how to kickbox, my university years have been incredibly rich.

Reflecting on my McGill experience, a couple values and lessons stick out. First, the importance of getting involved. University felt so large and intimidating until I started finding my spaces. When I joined The Tribune’s news section, I met a diversity of curious, adventurous people who would become friends. Interviews with students, professors, and campus groups introduced me to a love of reporting, and I got to know my new community through their eyes. In my fourth year, my day-to-day became ever more interesting when I served as a student representative to the McGill Senate. I had the opportunity to engage directly with student advocates and university administrators on policy action I cared about. None of these experiences would have happened if I had listened to my initial bout of self-doubt and not signed up.

The high calibre of student spaces that I have witnessed and been a part of has also shown me the importance of good leadership and prompted deeper thinking about the way I want to contribute for a better world. From student government meetings to conferences, many classmates have inspired me with their initiative, intellect, and grace. Even though our paths may have crossed for only a small moment, several have changed my perspectives and led me to new adventures.

Another lesson I have been continuously learning at McGill is that striving for excellence and balance will bring you so much more joy than seeking perfection. I know now that my school brain works best and (importantly) I feel better when I am well-rounded. That means taking breaks, not putting insurmountable pressure on myself, and prioritizing spending time with people to recharge. You can’t do it all when you’re stretched and stressed. On top of five classes, two jobs, extracurricular commitments, internship hunts, maintaining a social life, and trying to stay healthy, something’s got to give. I wish I understood in second year—or even last fall—that I was putting way too much weight on myself and that, no, anything less than ideal was not a failure.

One thing I hope to take with me is the spirit of embracing the unexpected. I never wrote an article, never ran in a student election, and never did a contact sport before McGill. Although initially, these activities were incredibly daunting, I tried them anyway, thinking why not? Being a perfectionist in high school, it has brought immense joy to lean into being a beginner and surprise myself with new passions and experiences that I could not have imagined before undergrad. It takes courage to try something new and know you might flop. But, the fun of experimenting and pushing past preconceived limits you had set for yourself also takes you much farther and is infinitely more satisfying.

Finally, what I am most proud of is the community I have developed during my time at McGill. After a prolonged period of isolation and navigating an academically rigorous environment, I’ve learned that my relationships sustain my wellbeing and give me purpose more than anything else. The various recognizable faces I saw on campus contributed to a sense of belonging. And, the constant encouragement of friends and family helped me combat pesky imposter syndrome and keep going, as they saw something in me when I could not.

I would not be here if it were not for the kind friends who made me a better writer, the brilliant professors who gave me their time to answer questions and give life advice, and everyone who showed me care and made me laugh after a long day. Having a strong community is everything, and I’m determined to continue cultivating that for myself in the future, especially as it gets more difficult after university.

It has been so special to spend these four years learning and growing in Montreal. I will miss walking on campus and feeling a sense of solidarity with others, knowing that we are all experiencing similar moments and challenges as undergrads at McGill. While ending this chapter is sad, I am excited for new adventures and all the fun to be had ahead of me. And, I know that I am better prepared to navigate this next phase of life.

Juliet Morrison is graduating with a Bachelor (Honours) in Political Science. She is taking a year to work and travel before pursuing a master’s degree in International Relations. She would like to thank all of her peers, professors, and friends for their support throughout her McGill journey, especially Maya, Isabel, Anna, Sara, and her family for their constant encouragement. 

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