Meet today’s science valedictorian: Shaarujaa Nadarajah

What emoji best represents you? What is your definition of success? Meet Shaarujaa Nadarajah, today’s valedictorian at the November 23 convocation for the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering.

1. Name
Shaarujaa Nadarajah

2. Where is your hometown?
Mississauga, Ontario

3. What is your degree and subject?
Honours Bachelor of Science (Life Science)

4. Why did you choose McMaster for your higher education career?
I took my first steps on this campus when I was 12 years old when my sister was moving into McKay Hall residence. One day while visiting her, she treated me to candy at Centro. At the checkout she swiped this white card. At the time I thought, ‘If I came to Mac, I would get all this free junk food’. 12 year old me was partially right as I did get my fair share of free pizza during undergrad. Beyond that, the values of this community was incomparable to that of any other institution. McMaster was a place where who I was mattered just as much as what I decided to do. It was that very tenet that encouraged me to pursue my higher education at McMaster.

5. What will you be doing after graduation or see yourself doing?
Currently, I have an internship working for the Vice-President, University Advancement at Mac. Through the internship I have been given the opportunity to see the many facets of advancement work through the lens of government relations, alumni relations, public relations, development, stewardship and donor relations, etc. In the future, I see myself doing similar work that will enable me to combine my passion for philanthropy and student life in a post-secondary environment.

6. Do you have any advice for current and future students?
We often don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they are happening. We grow complacent with ideas, things, or people and we take them for granted. The next couple of years will pass you by in an instant, it’s important to make every moment count. Embrace every opportunity that has been given to you, take risks, and have faith that life will work out the way it’s supposed to.

7. How has McMaster shaped the person you are today?
McMaster has given me the opportunity to be a part of so many diverse communities. The people I have met and the collective experiences we have shared together have shaped the person I am today. It is a space that has helped me figure out who I am, or more importantly, the person I want to be. At the end of the day, I want to be someone who’s given more than they’ve taken.

8. What events did you enjoy the most at McMaster or in Hamilton?
I never missed an opportunity to eat copious amounts of junk food from the food trucks at Supercrawl. It is a great local event that showcases the arts community in Hamilton and invited students to leave campus and immerse themselves in the downtown core.

9. What motivates you to work hard?
Working towards a purpose that is larger than myself.

10. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? And why?
The ability to travel back in time, so I can relive some of the best moments of my life.

11. Who is your favourite professor?
Dr. Kimberley Dej, the associate director of the School of Interdisciplinary Sciences. I remember sitting in class as a second year student and Dr. Dej came to do a guest lecture. As soon as she stood in front of the room, the class went silent. As she started to speak, I could hear her genuine passion  for the subject matter and it wasn’t just me because all the students were enthralled. She has won multiple prestigious teaching awards and always puts her students first. She is an innovator, strategic thinker, great listener, and powerful change-maker.

12. What is your best way to de-stress?
I used to love coming home and spending time with my roommates because together, we would share good laughs about some of our memorable moments of undergrad. For example, one time we all came home from spring break and realized someone had turned off the heat during reading week, so our entire basement flooded and we were forced to spend three months sharing a room in our student house. How could you not alight about that.

13. What emoji best represents you?

🐝 – I love being a busy bee

14. Would you like to give a shout out or an appreciation post to anyone?
My grandmother. We would always talk about how she would be sitting in the front row of my graduation cheering me on. When I was a kid, I would remember she would walk me to school every day and tell me that getting an education was the most important thing I could do for myself. I held onto those words and they got me through all the ups and downs of university. Sadly, she won’t get to see me graduate, but I hope she knows this day would never have come without her.

15. While at Mac, did you receive donor-funded financial assistance (e.g., scholarship, award, bursary)? Any thoughts on the importance of giving back to your alma mater to support future generations?
I am extremely grateful for all the donors that funded bursary programs at McMaster. They were instrumental in providing me with financial support while I was pursuing my undergraduate degree. Without the help of student financial aid support programs and donor funded bursaries, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue post-secondary education. The money donors invest into McMaster impacts the lives of thousands of students by helping to shape a better student experience. McMaster has given me so much, so I can’t think of a better way to give back than to help the next generation of students have the same, or an even better experience than I had during my time here.

Learn more about Fall 2018 convocations here:

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