Lessons from the Class of 2012

Last week I attended the convocation for Science and Nursing students at the University of New Brunswick.


Most people would find sitting through a graduation ceremony to be dull with the exception of their loved-one’s walk across the stage – but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of UNB’s guest speakers. These included Fredericton’s own Susan Chalmers-Gauvin, who in addition to being a successful business woman, is a passionate and inspiring individual. After-all, she started a world-class ballet company in New Brunswick!

Two things that I took away from her speech were:

  • Location doesn’t have to hold you back. As a young graduate I’ve always thought that living in a small community would allow limited opportunities to grow. The truth – success can happen anywhere! And with the internet to ease communications worldwide, there really is no reason to fret about your chosen location.
  • “You never know where your star may rise”. Taken in context, this statement was about being open to opportunities, even if they don’t fall perfectly in line with your degree. Don’t be afraid to take on new opportunities because you never know where they’ll take you. You never know where your talents truly lie until you take the time to explore them.

It was a really interesting experience to be on the “other side” of a graduation ceremony, and the experience has only made me more passionate about pursuing my dreams. After-all, I watched over 100 new scientists graduate into an already competitive job market. I wonder how many of them will pursue Science, and whether the most successful individuals will pursue careers in another discipline.

Love commencement addresses? Check out some of the best on yes and yes.

Do you remember any tidbits of inspiration from commencement speeches? 


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Getting back into those books that you’ve tossed aside

At any given time I have three or four books that I’m “reading“.

… and by that I mean I have a stack of books on my bedside table that I’ve lost interest in.

I frequently lose interest in following a trip to a bookstore/friend’s house/parent’s library where some hot new book has seduced me. Oh the power of a good word-of-mouth book review! 


What’s on my bedside table? Just these three books (right now), all at varying stages of completion.

Once in a while I will find my hands empty of a good read. This is when I go through my stack of half-finished-reads, not wanting to commit to them again. I always assume that there must have been a good reason for me to toss them aside in the first place.

This must be a pretty common occurrence! Books are left aside for next to no reason whatsoever!

I must say that it does feel good to finish reading something – regardless of whether it was good or bad. So I am challenging myself, and everyone who reads this post, to pick a book back up and continuing reading it. 

Need more encouragement?

I’ve thrown some great books aside at one time or another and really regretted it after finally committing to reading them, including:

  1. Harry Potter: you’ve got to admit, there’s a pretty long build-up to a good plot in that first one. After-all, eleven-year-olds aren’t known for their great attention spans!
  2. The Golden Compass: in fairness, I didn’t particularly care for this series even after finishing the first book. But the movie was kind of cool, so I will consider it a semi-win.
  3. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: another semi-interesting book that I honestly could have survived without reading. But I feel better for having finished it.
  4. Outliers: This book had some pretty good stories, it was just hard to take in all at once.

On the other hand, there are some books that I’m convinced I’ll never finish:

  1. The Foundation: No matter how many times I start this book (and I’ve had at least 3 copies thrust into my hands), I doubt I will ever get through the dialogue-rich, overly-complicated story-line. I’m sorry Azmiov – at least you wrote about a thousand other things for me to read instead!
  2. Blink: So I finished Outliers and that was enough of Mr. Gladwell’s abrupt writing style for me. I’m not saying that the content of the book isn’t interesting (it is), I’m just saying that I can’t see myself committing to finishing it. Ever.
  3. The Secret: When I watched the movie it made sense for random gurus/scientists/business-people to pop in to have their say. In print, it makes for a pretty obnoxious read. PLEASE stop speaking all at once!
  4. Anything else written by Douglas Adams: I can’t figure out why people find these so entertaining when the humour is as dry as an anti-perspirant. I get it, it’s British. I’m not.

But no matter how amazing or terrible a book was to read, there is always something that we can take away from each thing that we read. So let’s pick up those rejected books and learn something new!


Starting things on your own time

I’m one of those people who loves to start things at “significant times“.

What’s a significant time? In my mind it’s the beginning of a week, month, or year – a literal time to start fresh. But really, it’s just an obvious way to put something off for a few more days. A productivity startegy with a built-in mechanism for procrastination. Who said I wasn’t brilliant?

In reality, there is no better time to start something than…? The moment you come up with the idea? That rainy day where there’s really nothing better to do (after you’ve finished watching all of the movies leading up to the Avengers)? Or… right… now?


Stop waiting for the rain to pass – get out there and succeed!

So write your novel outside of November (national novel writing month)! Start applications before the deadline! Start a new fitness regiment the day you read about it! Start a new blog on a Thursday! Plan a healthy meal for the weekend rather than starting a diet on Monday! Don’t let motivation pass you by!


Taking time to enjoy unemployment

I know what you’re thinking. Unemployment is not meant to be enjoyed.

But that can’t be right!

Here’s how I see it: unemployment is just a stage in my life. And life is not infinite. Dwelling on unemployment and living without taking time to enjoy yourself is like wishing your life away. You’ll regret wasting precious time that you’ll never get back.

That said, I honestly can’t understand the people who try to make me feel better by saying things like “Unemployment was the best time of my life” or “You’re so lucky to have so much free time.”. Gah… please stop talking before I lose my cool!

In reality, you can still enjoy life while you’re unemployed, though you’ll have to put vacations and other extravagances aside. You can still spend time with family and friends. You can always take nature walks, explore your city, go to the local swimming hole, and endless other uplifting activities in your hometown. There’s a great big world out there – don’t limit yourself to staring at your laptop screen all day!


My weekend nature walk in beautiful Fredericton, New Brunswick.


What are your favourite activities to do on the cheap? 


Gogogo: stop holding yourself back!

I have a motto. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it inspires me to no end…


Yea, it’s abrupt. It’s aggressive. And it’s always encourages me to keep moving forward and to jump at opportunities.

Sad-face only works for my kitty – figure out what you need to achieve your dreams

When I consider the fact that I am unemployed, or any other frustrating truth about my present situation, I realize that there is really only one thing I can do to make it better. And it’s pretty simple: by doing something! I can send another resume; call one more company; contact one new person to build upon my social network. The only thing that won’t work is holding myself back.

So gogogogogo! Accomplish your dreams by taking one step, no matter how seemingly insignificant, today!

Everyone has a saying that inspires them – what’s yours?