Convocation Profile: A chat with Cosette Schadan

After spending her childhood bouncing back and forth between Edmonton and Calgary, Bachelor of Kinesiology graduate Cosette Schadan took up permanent residency in Alberta’s capital city to become a university student. While her first several years in the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation weren’t your typical student experience, she never gave up the drive and determination to finish her degree. Cosette concludes her undergraduate degree program with much more than a parchment and a head full of knowledge—she leaves as an outstanding role model to her friends, classmates, family and—most importantly—her son. 

What brought you to the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation (KSR) at the University of Alberta?

Growing up, I was a competitive Irish dancer and I spent my days training and travelling the world to compete. This is where I found a love for kinesiology and it was something that I always knew I wanted to study and pursue as a career. I began my degree at MacEwan University in the Bachelor of PhysEd Transfer Program and later transferred to the University of Alberta to complete my Bachelor of Kinesiology degree with a major in Sports Performance. 

What were some of the greatest challenges you faced as a student, how did you overcome these challenges and how have those challenges shaped the person you are today?

My first few years of university were very challenging to say the least. I had my son as I was going into my third year. I was lucky enough to be able to finish my second year right up to the end of my pregnancy and came back for my third year when my son was only 6 months old. Going to classes pregnant and then having a newborn while in school was a crazy experience! Part of the challenge was planning out all my courses based on what I could and couldn’t do while pregnantespecially since Kinesiology is such an active degree! 

Once my son arrived, I was running on little sleep and had to learn how to adjust between my mom and student duties very quickly. My classes and studying had to be planned around my son’s schedule and time management became a huge skill for me that I developed and took advantage of. 

Those tough years taught me to never stop fighting for your goals despite the obstacles. I was incredibly determined to finish my degree since it was something very important to me and going through it with my son just made me more resilient.

Your classmates are in awe of your work ethic and how your competing priorities and schedules all the while maintaining such a positive attitude. What motivates you to brush off the day before and charge into the next with such optimism and determination?

My biggest motivation through those tough days was the end goal I had in mind. When you have goals and are passionate about what you are doing, it’s easy to find that motivation and to push through. I kept reminding myself that all of the hard work will get me to a career that I love. I also wanted to be a good role model for my son as I pursued my own goals with him on my hip. I used the Nike motto “Just do it” quite a bit, as cheesy as it soundsit really did help push me through the never-ending assignments and get me to this point.

Where did you do your practicum and what did your role entail?

I completed my practicum at Acadia Physical Therapy where I worked as an exercise therapist. My practicum was cut a month short due to Covid-19, but I had a great experience during my short time there. I worked with clients helping them through their exercise programs as part of their physiotherapy treatment.  Through these interactions between clients and colleagues, I gained invaluable experience and knowledge in the field of kinesiology. But, more importantly, I gained personal and professional confidence in my choice of studies and future career.  

As you get ready to convocate, what career plans do you have for the future?

My current goal that I am working towards is becoming a CSEP Certified Exercise Physiologist.

You and your graduating classmates are experiencing Convocation like no other students have before you. What are some thoughts and/or feelings you have about convocating during a pandemic?

Convocating during a pandemic has been really frustrating and disappointing. Everyone anticipates that special day and I was looking forward to walking the stage with my son by my side to receive my degree. Despite everything, I am very grateful I’m still able to graduate when expected, and one day I’ll look back and remember that I completed my degree in a very historic and trying time of the world. 

With all that being said, I want to wish the 2020 KSR graduates the best of luck as they embark on new adventures! 

What are you most proud of in your journey as a U of A/KSR student?

This degree really challenged me both academically and personally, and I’m proud I got through it all. Kinesiology opened me up to a variety of new things that I wasn’t expecting at the start of this journey and I’m proud I was able to try them all and push through despite the challenges along the way. From the many sports and activities, to human body dissections, I got to learn in so many different “hands-on” ways. I am very passionate about my degree and it makes it all worth it when you get to study something you love. The five years I spent studying have truly been the best years of my life!