Meet this morning’s Engineering valedictorian


"Coming to McMaster was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made!"

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What would you say to your first year you? Meet Emily Farquharson, valedictorian at the June 16 Convocation for the Faculty of Engineering.

1. Name: 

Emily Farquharson

2. Hometown:

Oakville, Ontario

3. Degree/Major:

Civil Engineering & Co-Op

4. What made you choose McMaster for you higher education career? 

Coming to May at Mac and seeing how enthusiastic all the upper years were about this school sold me on McMaster. I have had the best university experience possible here, so it’s cool to now be in the position to encourage anyone who’s willing to listen to come to Mac!

5. What will you be doing after graduation or see yourself doing? 

I started working in a Structural Design position at WSP right after graduating. I am absolutely loving it so far!

6. What would you say or advice to your first year self? 

In first year, I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed by the volume of work that we were given. A lot of people seemed completely unfazed by the adjustment, so I never really felt comfortable talking about how much tougher I was finding University. If I could give my first-year self one piece of advice, it would be that there is absolutely no shame in struggling, and that often even the most confident people are feeling the same way.

7. How has McMaster shaped the person you are today? 

My experience at McMaster has definitely made me more confident in what I do know, but also more comfortable with asking for help or advice from the people around me. There were plenty of times when my friends helped me solve problems, both inside and outside of the classroom, that I could not have solved by myself.

8. What events did you enjoy the most at McMaster/Hamilton city?

I am a big fan of karaoke, and Hamilton has a pretty great selection of karaoke establishments. For go-to karaoke songs, follow me on Spotify, username farquher.

Within McMaster, I loved participating in a bunch of events with the Mac Field Hockey team. From Relay for Life to Trick or Eat, there was always a great sense of community and school spirit!

9. If you could change anything in the past or in your time at McMaster, what would it be? 

I would have actually read the course outlines in first year! I didn’t realize that our weekly LON-Capa assignments were only worth 2.5% total and spent so much time doing those! I also wish that I had TA-ed surveying. That was one of my favorite classes, and would have been a blast to TA!

10. Who was your support for succeeding in higher education? 

My parents, of course, were huge in helping me to succeed in school. They were really clear from day one that I needed to be studying something that I loved. Even though they both work in business, they were always keen to learn about what was interesting me in school and encouraged me to pursue whatever path I felt would make me happiest after school.

My classmates have also been an absolutely enormous source of support over the past five years. Other than those lonely economics electives that I took each year, I can’t think of a single test that I didn’t study for with classmates. We all supported each other through the aftermath of brutal exams, the emotional turmoil of a never- ending job search, and any other general decisions or obstacles that came up in life. I would say that I hope to remain in contact with these amazing people after school, but actually, I am a pretty persistent event planner, so there’s really no choice.

11. How have you changed over the course of your University life? 

The best change that I have seen in myself over the past five years at Mac is my ability to face entirely foreign problems without becoming intimidated or flustered. A huge part of this change took place during my internship year, when I was faced all sorts of problems that I had never seen before, and had to just figure it out to make things work. When I came back to school for my last year, I found this made a world of difference in my ability to tackle bigger, more open-ended tasks like our final-year capstone project.

12. How have you grown as a person throughout your time at McMaster?

Throughout my time at Mac, I have really found out the importance of not only building other people up, but also encouraging yourself. As much as this may make me sound a bit nuts, I think that internal pep-talks are seriously underrated.

13. What do you envision yourself doing five years from now? 

In five years, I hope to have my P.Eng. designation, and to still be working in Structural Design in a technical role.

14. What is your definition of success? 

To me, success is being able to relentlessly seek out and tackle any challenge that you can find without ever losing enthusiasm or neglecting the things most important to you.

15. How would your life be different if you didn’t go to McMaster? 

I don’t even want to think about it! But actually, I can’t even imagine that I would have had this kind of experience anywhere else. Coming to McMaster was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made!

Learn more about Spring 2017 convocations here:

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