A diverse, multitalented group, the Spring 2022 valedictorians are citizens of the world with remarkably varied backgrounds. Some hail from distant places – Quito, Ecuador; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and Rakh Bharoke Dhaki, Pakistan. Others were born nearby – Johnson, Vermont and Bolton Ontario. And some valedictorians come from right next door – Chambly, Quebec and Montreal’s West Island.
This year’s cohort, while coming from vastly different backgrounds, share enthusiasm, ambition and a well-rounded philosophy of life. These outstanding students have also 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.
As part of our Spring 2022 Convocation coverage, the Reporter is conducting a series of Q&A interviews with some of our valedictorians.
In this instalment, we feature Glory Chima, who delivered the valedictorian address for the Arts ‘C’ ceremony on May 31.
What is your hometown?
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Why did you choose McGill?
My decision to attend McGill was based on a gut feeling. The year before I came to McGill, I had the chance to tour the campus, and while I was on the tour, I noticed how happy being on campus made me feel. After that, I knew that this was where I wanted to go for university.
What is your degree?
Honours Psychology with a minor in Philosophy.
What were some of your impressions when walking onto campus for the first time?
When I toured the campus, I remember thinking that it was beautiful, and I remember how happy I felt. I also remember visiting Carrefour Sherbrooke (C4) and thinking that I’d love to live there for my first year at McGill.
When I first walked onto campus as a McGill student, I remember feeling excited and nervous as I was moving into C4 and getting ready to meet other students in the residence! I also remember feeling confused as I walked to different spots on campus because I was still learning my way around.
What are some of the highlights of your time as a McGill student?
In my first year, I sat on the C4 Hall Council and the Inter-Residence Council (IRC) as the C4 Hall Council President, and it was an amazing experience. I loved working with other council members to plan events, and I really enjoyed attending the events as well. Furthermore, it was through council that I met some of my friends. I also loved living in C4 in my first year, as well as the experience of getting to know a new city!
Other highlights from my time as a McGill student came from spending time with my friends. I loved going out to eat and just sitting and talking with them, as well as exploring different places around the city together.
Three favourite places on campus?
Carrefour Sherbrooke, the Music Library, and McTavish Street.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during your time here and how did you overcome them?
Some of the biggest challenges I faced during my time at McGill were dealing with academic stress, trying to maintain a work-life balance, getting through the pandemic and online school, and stressing about the future.
I came into McGill wanting to do really well academically. But, because it was my first year of university, I wasn’t sure how much I would need to study to get good grades at a university level. As a result, in my first year, I often found myself studying for hours on end while also trying to balance my social life and my extracurricular responsibilities, and this proved to be very difficult and stressful at times.
Once I got into my second year, I made it a goal of mine to work on maintaining a better work-life balance. Some ways I did this were by not allowing myself to study past a certain time in the evening and by pushing myself to go out with my friends and to attend the different events I wanted to go to but was hesitant to do so because I was afraid of falling behind in my classes. Taking these steps not only helped me improve my work-life balance but also helped me relieve some stress.
My faith also played such a huge role in helping me get through some tough times. Sometimes, a prayer was all I needed to help me feel more relaxed or to release my worries about the future and the things I couldn’t control. Some other things I did to help relieve some stress and to get through the pandemic and online school were to take walks and to work out.
What’s next for you, both short and long term?
I hope to eventually go to grad school to get a PhD. in clinical neuropsychology, but until then, I’ll be working, travelling, and learning new skills.
Tell us about your Faculty and your classmates. How important have they been to your overall McGill experience?
It was through the Faculty of Arts that I was able to take courses that I really enjoyed and that provided me with an incredible educational experience. I also made some friends and met some great people in my faculty as well. However, it was after I got into the Honours Psychology program for the last two years of my undergraduate degree that I started to feel a sense of connection to my classmates.
Before then, a lot of the courses I took had hundreds of people, and even in my smaller classes, most students didn’t really talk to each other that often unless it was for an assignment or a project. But, once I got into the Honours program, although I did still take some courses of a relatively large class size, I was also able to take small classes with a lot of the same Honours students for two years in a row, and that helped me feel more of a connection to my classmates because I started to recognize and get to know people in my program.
Who or what will you miss most?
I’m going to miss my friends, though some of them will still be in Montreal, which I’m really thankful for because I’ll still be here for a while as well. I’ll also miss the sense of community that came with attending different events at McGill and being a part of different clubs and councils.
What advice do you have for new students to McGill?
Take breaks when you study! It might seem counterproductive at first, but taking a break will allow you to refresh your brain, and when you come back to keep studying, you’ll be able to stay focused and be productive.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors and TAs or to attend their office hours to get help with any material you’re struggling with. By meeting with them, you could also receive some guidance on how to prepare for future assessments in that course.
Reaching out to upper-year students within your program can also be incredibly helpful. There can be so much information about one’s program that it can be hard to know about it all. By reaching out to someone who’s a few steps further down the same path that you’re taking, you could get some information about different opportunities within your program that you may not have previously known about. You could also save yourself the time and effort of looking things up and sending emails to your advisors to try and understand certain aspects and opportunities within your program.
Lastly, explore Montreal beyond the McGill bubble! Montreal is an amazing city with so many places to go and different things to try. Take advantage of it all while you’re here.
What are your plans for Convocation?
My family will be attending my convocation, and I’ll be giving my valedictory speech!
What was your experience with the pandemic?
There were times when getting through the pandemic, most of which I spent in Montreal, was really tough, and although I was initially excited about the idea of online school, getting through online school eventually proved to be quite challenging at times. However, it was also during the pandemic that I made some great memories (especially after places started opening up again) and was able to focus more on myself, my goals, and my hobbies.
Do you have anything to add?
I’m so thankful for the incredible experiences I had during my time at McGill, and I’m excited to see what the future holds!
Below is the video of the Faculty of Arts ‘C’ ceremony. You can view Glory Chima’s address at 2:21:30.