Meet the Humanities and Arts and Science valedictorian

Suzy Flader

Never underestimate the power of a liberal arts education, says Suzy Flader, valedictorian at the June 14 convocation for the Faculty of Humanities and the Arts & Science Program.

If you had a superpower, what would it be? What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? Suzy Flader, valedictorian at the June 14 convocation for the Faculty of Humanities and the Arts & Science Program, answers these and other pressing questions in our Daily News questionnaire:

  1. Your home town:

Vancouver, British Columbia

  1. Your degree & subject area:

Honours Arts & Science

  1. Where are you headed after convocation?

This September I will begin the combined Law and Masters of Public Administration program at the University of Victoria.

  1. Your best memory of Mac?

This is a very difficult question to answer, because I have so many amazing memories of my time at McMaster. I have made some incredible friends over the years, and so every moment that I have been able to spend with them is what I am going to consider my (massive) best memory.

  1. The best advice anyone ever gave you?

My mom has always encouraged me to make room in my life for the things that I love, such as theatre, reading, and working out. This advice has always stuck with me, especially as my schedule has gotten busier over the years. It is an important stress-management strategy to be able to take a break from work and other commitments every so often.

  1. Your biggest accomplishment so far?

This year I served as President of the Society of Arts & Science Students, which was an absolutely incredible privilege! From the election process to the various weekly tasks, the job required a lot of hard work and commitment. But there was never a moment when I was not ecstatic to have the role. Being a part of the Arts & Science community has been my favourite part of being at McMaster, and I am still in denial about having to part from all my amazing classmates.

  1. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

I am not sure whether this is a real superpower, but I would love to be able to speak and understand any language on command.

  1. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned (so far)?

That no one should ever feel pressured to stick to just one path in life. I came into university knowing that I wanted to go into medicine. When I realized that this was not the right field for me, I felt like a failure for not being able to stick to my original plan. After receiving a lot of encouragement from friends and family, I was able to recognize that I could have a career outside of medicine that would allow me to be fulfilled. I can still help make the world a better place. Now, I am certain that I will have a number of different jobs/careers throughout my life. I never want to get to a place where I feel as though what I am doing is not making any sort of positive impact.

  1. What do you think the future holds for higher education?

I cannot say for sure what the future holds for higher education, but I do have two main hopes regarding the subject. First, I hope that post-secondary education will continue to become more accessible. There are many qualified individuals across our country who are unable to attend university due to factors such as socio-economic status and mental health issues. It would be wonderful if more measures could be put into place to support those facing barriers to receiving a higher education. Second, I hope that more programs of study will become accepted as “legitimate” by the majority of society. Many people tend to look down upon arts degrees, which I think is very misguided. I think that it is important for students to learn according to our strengths and interests, and that doing so will allow us to be successful. It is a shame when students are deterred from studying the arts due to stigmas.

  1. 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?

I have been very fortunate to receive both a McMaster Honour Award and the Bert MacKinnon Memorial Scholarship. I think it is very important for students to have access to such funding. I have a lot of respect for the alumni who continue to fund their alma mater in order to provide more opportunities for current students.

Learn more about Spring 2016 convocations here:


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