McGill’s valedictorians are outstanding students whose strong academic performance, leadership and community involvement has earned the respect of their peers. This year’s cohort is remarkable for its diversity, each having vastly different backgrounds, experiences, passions and goals.
What they do share is ambition, curiosity, and a desire to have a positive impact on the world.
As with most students, McGill’s valedictorians were challenged over the course of their studies. But, with perseverance, dedication, and the support of people around them, they thrived. The University has benefitted just as much for having them as valuable, contributing members of our community.
As part of our Spring 2023 Convocation coverage, the Reporter is conducting a series of Q&A interviews this year’s valedictorians.
In this instalment, we feature Alessandra Granata, valedictorian for the Agricultural & Environmental Sciences ‘B’ ceremony on Friday, June 2, at 2:30 p.m. Granata will earn a Bachelor of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Majoring in Life Sciences with a specialization in Animal Health & Disease.
Where is your hometown?
Why did you choose McGill?
I chose McGill because I know it is a distinguished institution and it is where I felt I could do my best. And the fact that I could stay close to home was a plus as well!
What were some of your impressions when walking onto campus for the first time?
As soon as I stepped on campus, it felt like home. There is an energy filled with curiosity and comradery that I fell in love with.
Some of my favorite memories of my time at McGill are:
- Going out after class with my friends
- Organizing events for Mac campus (like carnival day and tote bag giveaways!)
- Comparative anatomy (the most difficult class of my life but where I made some of my fondest memories)
- All of NUTR 512 (one of the best classes I have ever taken!)
Three favourite places on McGill/Mac campus?
- The flex space (my favorite by far!)
- The Ceilidh
- 4th floor Raymond classes (great study spot when there are no classes in there)
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during your time here and how did you overcome them?
I think my biggest challenge was time management while studying. It has been a big weakness of mine throughout all my schooling, and university was no different. However, I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 20 during my first year at McGill, and this guided me on what strategies to use to overcome my time management issues. Ever since then I have improved a lot, and I hope to keep improving.
What’s next for you, both short and long term?
I will be starting my Master’s in biotechnology at McGill in the fall. I will be doing that for the next year and a half. After that, I hope to get a management job in the pharmaceutical industry. I am not too set on one type of job though, I want to see where life takes me.
Tell me about your Faculty and your classmates. How important have they been to your overall McGill experience?
One of my favorite things about Mac is that it is small, so it’s a very tight knit community. The friends I made have truly changed my life, and I consider them like family. After spending essentially eight hours a day with them for two years (and, miraculously, somehow we’re not sick of each other yet) I just wouldn’t be who I am without them. I think because we are all in similar programs we have a lot in common which helps, but I also lucked out and landed on truly the best group of people ever. When I tell you I have never laughed so much in my entire life, I really mean it! And if the worst thing I get from my university years is smile lines, then I think that’s time perfectly spent! I know I have made connections that will last me a lifetime, and if you ask me what made my experience at McGill so special I wouldn’t hesitate for a second, without a doubt it was them. I love them with all my heart.
Who or what will you miss most?
I’m lucky enough to be coming back for my Master’s, but I will definitely still miss having classes with all my friends, visiting the MCSS staff, working with the AESUS team, and experiencing the overall ambiance of Mac.
What advice do you have for new students to McGill?
My advice would be to join clubs and activities, and to talk to a lot of people. Having a network of people to experience your undergrad with is so special, and it makes everything so much more fun. Also, making friends in every class helps with course work and studying, and makes the class much more enjoyable.
Do you have friends or family coming for Convocation?
Yes! My parents, my brother, and my sister are coming. They are my whole world, I am beyond grateful to have them as a support system. As sappy as it is, I truly could not have done it without them.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the world today? How confident are you that we can address these challenges and make a difference?
I think our biggest challenges will be:
- Mitigating climate change and controlling the damage that it will cause to the environment, quality of life, and infrastructures.
- Food insecurity as a result of geopolitical issues, climate change, and a growing population.
- Providing clean water to people globally.
- Depleting energy resources and the implementation of new renewable energies.
- Creating and implementing policy around new technologies, such as artificial intelligence.
- Combatting emerging diseases (whether it be from antimicrobial resistance, genetic reassortment, etc.)
- Revolutionizing healthcare systems and procedures to maintaining the quality of care as resources decrease and demand increases.
I know this is a long list, and to be honest I cannot say I am entirely confident we will fix them because my confidence would be unfounded based on our current solutions. At the rate we are going, we will not fix enough of these problems to make much improvement.
However, I am confident that we have the resources and information to change that projection, and the combination of what each of us does with these tools will dictate what the future will look like.
Do you have anything to add?
I have had the absolute best time during my undergrad at McGill, and I want to thank everyone who had a part in that.
And to anyone reading this, I hope you have an amazing day, you deserve it! 🙂