Meet Alexis Polidoro, Faculty of Science valedictorian

Name: Alexis Polidoro

Hometown: Hamilton, ON

What is the degree and subject you pursued?
I pursued a BSc (Hons.) with a combined major in Geography and Environmental Science.

What made you choose McMaster?
Being born and raised in Hamilton, I always knew attending McMaster was a dream of mine. It is the best of both worlds, as I am able to have the university experience while still in the comfort of my own home. When the offer letter came through, I did not hesitate to accept it!

What will you be doing/see yourself doing after graduation?
I will be returning to McMaster in the fall to pursue graduate studies in geography. I am working with an incredible group of individuals who aim to better understand human-environment interactions in the Canadian North.

What would you say to your first-year self?
Do not be afraid to get involved in clubs! Joining student government in my fourth year is something I wish I explored earlier in my university career. It is an amazing way to meet people and socialize with others in your program and faculty.

Do you have any advice for current and future students?
This can apply to any student, but the most important thing throughout university is your well-being.

How has McMaster shaped the person you are today?
McMaster allowed me to find my passion for the environment and express it with no consequences. I was able to attend a program where students shared similar values that we could bond over, giving me a sense of belonging. Additionally, through pursuing the role of a teaching assistant I was able to develop an admiration for helping others. This opportunity solidified my decision to return to McMaster for graduate studies in the fall.

What events did you enjoy the most at McMaster/Hamilton?
The best memories I have on campus include the special moments with my friends and I would get Willy-Dog and hang out in the library for hours before a final exam. I cherished any moment I spent with my friends as I knew we would all go our separate ways once our undergraduate careers were over.

What is your definition of success?
I would define success as a product of hard work and determination while gaining recognition for what you have accomplished.

How has McMaster helped you create a brighter world?
A part of McMaster’s Brighter World campaign is the focus on researching the health and well-being of all. This year I wrote my senior thesis regarding satisfaction of the cycling community on campus. The purpose of the research was to investigate if cyclists feel satisfied with existing bicyhcle storage and lanes throughout campus. This connects to creating a brighter world as I aimed to investigate how we can enhance the cycling experience on campus.

Who is your favourite professor?
Dr. Bernier–his passion for climate change is incredible!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I would love to have powers similar to Thor, including super strength and the ability to control the weather.

If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?
Turin, Italy

What have you been doing to self-care during the COVID-19 lockdown?
Maintaining a routine as much as possible, in addition to keeping my mind busy through yoga and home renovations. I find exercise and meditation are extremely effective methods for reducing stress during the lockdown.

What’s the hardest part about working virtually for you? The easiest?
The biggest challenge of working virtually is the change in routine. Personally, I enjoy studying while on campus and find I am more attentive to lectures when delivered in-person. Adjusting to a virtual school environment challenged me to find the motivation to do work as we are not in our normal circumstances. In contrast, the easiest part of working virtually is not having to wake up early to get ready for the day.

What would you advise others as we transition to a new normal?
Change is inevitable, and as we adjust to a new normal it is important to embrace change rather than being fearful of it.

While at Mac, did you receive donor-funded financial assistance (e.g., a scholarship, award, bursary)? Any thoughts on the importance of giving back to your alma mater to support future generations?
In my first year, I received the entrance scholarship for an overall average of over 80%. Additionally, I received the Southern Ontario Economic Development Council Scholarship in third-year. Awards, scholarships and bursaries provide a great deal of financial freedom for students, and it is a personal goal to give back to future generations so they can experience this freedom as well.