Conversations with valedictorians: Andrew Laplante, Faculty of Education

“Failure is normal and is part of the process.  What determines your success is how you bounce back.”

Hailing from around the world, McGill’s valedictorians are a diverse, multitalented group. When they came to the University, they brought with them their unique backgrounds, passions and ambitions. While they all praise the education they received at McGill, one thing is certain, the University has benefitted just as much for having them as valuable, contributing members of our community.

These outstanding students have earned the respect of the peers who they represent through their strong academic performance, leadership and commitment to making the University – and the world – a better place.

For the Spring 2021 Convocation, the Reporter continued its tradition of interviewing the newest group of McGill valedictorians.

In the sixth instalment of the series, we feature Andrew Laplante (BEd, in the Secondary Program, science & technology), one of two valedictorians for the Faculty of Education. You can watch the Faculty’s virtual convocation ceremony here; Andrew’s valedictory speech begins at 27:46.

Andrew Laplante is one of the Faculty of Education’s 2021 valedictorians. He’s grateful for how his peers “kept each other motivated and supported each other” during the pandemic.

What is your hometown? 

Embrun, Ontario

Why did you choose McGill? 

I originally chose McGill for a change of scenery and the chance to live in the city of Montreal that I had often visited growing up. McGill’s reputation for both its academics and social life made the decision to come here easy!

What were some of your impressions when walking onto campus for the first time? 

Very overwhelming and very beautiful! As someone who grew up in a small community the sheer size of the campus was astonishing – so much so that I got lost trying to find McLennan.

What are some of the highlights of your time as a McGill student? 

Although my time at McGill have been some of the best years of my life, I will always be marked the kindness, wisdom, and inspiration of my peers and professors.

Three favourite places on McGill/Mac campus? 

Schulich Library, Education Building and Lower Field

What’s next for you, both short and long term? 

In the upcoming fall, I plan to teach and have a classroom of my own where I will do my best to spread my love of science and math. I will also be returning to McGill as a graduate student in the M.A. Educational Leadership (Thesis) program.

Who or what will you miss most? 

Easy! Samosas and Super Sandwich – and my friends of course!

What advice do you have for new students to McGill? 

Always do your best – no matter how much or how little that may be. Remember that you have chosen this path so that you can learn and grow. Whether it be about your subject or yourself, you will learn valuable lessons that will shape you. Failure is normal and is part of the process.  What determines your success is how you bounce back.

What are your plans for virtual convocation? 

My students and I will be tuning into my graduation and watching the virtual convocation together from my classroom! My family and I will be celebrating a bit later in the summer when it’s safer to do so.

What was your experience with the pandemic?  

COVID-19 has definitely changed a lot – especially in the world of education. Our lives as teachers in training were challenged as new protocols were implemented and our students struggled. However, from my experience, my peers and I kept each other motivated and supported each other at the toughest of times. COVID has taught me to be a more understanding, patient, flexible, accommodating teacher and for that I am thankful.

Do you have anything to add? 

To all my fellow graduates, take the time to celebrate even for just a moment. Smile with pride and realize that you have come so far.