To celebrate Convocation, we asked a few of our Health Sciences graduates to reflect on their experiences at McMaster University and to offer some advice to their younger selves.

We also asked them what their future plans are, as well as their favourite memories and places on campus.

Here is what graduates Maneetpal Badesha, Chantelle Boyles, Gabrielle Herman and Michael Kalu had to say:

Maneetpal Badesha

Maneetpal Badesha (Speech Language Pathology)

What does having graduated mean to you and your family?

Obtaining a master's degree means a lot to my family and me. I am the first in my family to get a master’s degree in Canada. My parents immigrated to Canada so that my sister and I could live a better life and receiving a formal education was a part of that. I am grateful for their unwavering support and proud to reach this achievement.

What advice would you give your first-year self?

One piece of advice I would give to my first-year self is that your two years go by fast! Live in the moment, take every opportunity to learn and grow and have fun throughout it all. There will be ups and downs in those two years but remember that you will get through it all, so take it one day at a time.

What is your favourite memory from being a student at McMaster University?

My favourite memories from my time in the Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program at McMaster would have to be the time I spent with my classmates - in class, at lunch, during social events, etc. I am grateful to have classmates that I was able to form strong bonds with and who will always be my SLP family.

What’s next for you after graduation?

After graduation, I will begin to practice as a speech-language pathologist in my community and continue to learn and grow in this field. I have an interest in research, so who knows, maybe I'll eventually make my way back to school to pursue doctoral studies. One thing is for sure – I will continue to be a lifelong learner wherever I go.

Bonus: Where is your favourite spot on campus?

One of my favourite spots on campus is the McMaster Museum of Art! I love how we have an art museum on campus, and it’s been a little escape from reality when needed. I recommend every student check it out at least once during their time at Mac!

Chantelle Boyles

Chantelle Boyles (Speech Language Pathology)

What does having graduated mean to you and your family?

Graduating is a bittersweet experience. Graduating challenges me to step back and reflect on all that has happened and all that I have accomplished. I am proud of how far I have come and wish I could tell my past self that all the hard times and challenges that have taken place will be worth all the lessons and experiences. Graduating means growth and I know that my learning does not stop here.

What advice would you give your first-year self?

I would tell myself to find peace in knowing that everything that is meant for you, will happen for you! Everything works out in the end and with a bit of hard work and perseverance, good things will come. 

What is your favourite memory from being a student at McMaster University?

My favourite memory from being a student at McMaster University is being able to meet great friends that I have shared laughter, tears, joy and so much more with!

What’s next for you after graduation?

Graduating from my master of science in SLP and entering the clinical working hopefully working as a medical SLP in the hospital!

Where is your favourite spot on campus?

My favourite spot to be on campus is sitting on the benches in front of the Hamilton and University Halls. I love the older buildings on campus. 

Gabrielle Herman

Gabrielle Herman (Undergraduate Medical Education)

What does having graduated mean to you and your family?

A couple of years before I applied to medical school, my father’s cancer recurred. As we navigated his healthcare, we often spoke about the physicians on his team and what we liked or disliked about their approaches. My decision to pursue medicine solidified as I helped to coordinate dad’s end-of-life care, and he died two weeks before my medical school interviews. I will always remember how excited he was to see me wearing my interview blazer, despite the exhaustion from his disease. I hope to provide quality, family-centred care in his honour.

What advice would you give your first-year self?

I’ll pass on something my student advisor told me a few months into clerkship. While feedback from preceptors is a gift, you don’t need to implement every single piece of feedback immediately – in fact, that would be too overwhelming! It is okay to choose which feedback feels applicable to you, and trust in the learning process to figure out the rest.

What is your favourite memory from being a student at McMaster University?

After a particularly hard day in the hospital, I drove straight to my classmates’ house to eat gummy candies and vent. We ended up watching some excellent reality TV and had a long, deep conversation over mugs of tea. I am grateful for the friends I’ve made. 

What’s next for you after graduation?

I am going to Edmonton to be a pediatric neurology resident! I am so excited to be working my dream job with an amazing team, and both nervous and excited to move far away for the first time. Outside of work, I’ll be spending some time traveling before the whirlwind of residency begins.

Bonus: Where is your favourite spot on campus?

I am a Waterloo Regional Campus student, so I’ve got to say the popcorn machine on the third floor of our campus!

Mike Kalu

Michael Kalu (School of Rehabilitation Science)

What does having graduated mean to you and your family?

My graduation is the ultimate realization of my years filled with unwavering dedication, relentless perseverance, and numerous sacrifices. It is a testament to the fruits of my labour and validates the efforts and investments made throughout my educational journey. I attribute this achievement not only to my hard work but also acknowledge the unwavering support, love, and patience of my family members, who have stood by me through thick and thin, providing financial and emotional support. Additionally, I am grateful for the guidance and encouragement from my supervisors, peers and administrative staff spanning from my undergraduate degree to my PhD, whose continuous feedback and belief in my abilities propelled me toward success.

What advice would you give your first-year self?

Embrace, live, love and process the journey, academic, social, health and mental. Celebrate every win, however small, and of course rejoice when there are failures, as those are foundational to your successes. Please approach decision-making intentionally. Finally, make citation managers, such as Zotero your best friend, as they always answer when you call, until it needs an update!

What is your favourite memory from being a student at McMaster University?

Among the many cherished memories, a few stand out as favourites. One of them includes being honoured as the inaugural recipient of the Labarge Mobility Scholarship, which brought immense joy and a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, the lively and intellectually stimulating discussions during the School of Rehabilitation Science (SRS) seminars hold a special place in my heart. However, one of the most significant and fulfilling moments was serving as a health science student ambassador for the SRS. It was incredibly rewarding to have students approach me and express how our meetings or conversations we had during open houses were pivotal in their decision to join McMaster and pursue the SRS program. Of course, the free graduate student lunch at the beginning of every new year was foundational to making exceptional friends outside my program that kept me sane during the PhD journey.

What’s next for you after graduation?

Postdoctoral fellow and faculty position, typical, right? I will surely keep the SRS and McMaster University updated. Thanks so much for having me here at McMaster University.

Bonus: Where is your favourite spot on campus?

Do PhD students have spots on campus? Personally, I enjoy occasional drinks at the Phoenix, but my go-to spots are often the graduate office and enjoying walks around campus. One of my preferred routes is from the Applied Health Sciences building through the Engineering building, then down to the hostel and stadium before returning through the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery (MDCL) building. These walks and the Rehabilitation Science grad office hold a special place in my heart and have provided moments of relaxation and reflection during my PhD journey.

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