Convocation Profile: A chat with Sidney Wideman

Sidney Wideman always had her sights set on attending the University of Alberta. Growing up in St. Albert, Alberta, Sidney knew there was no other place for her to start her post-secondary journey than on the beautiful U of A campus. 

Sidney’s undergraduate journey ends tomorrow as she joins her Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation classmates for the first-ever virtual convocation. The Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology graduate leaves KSR with the Governor General’s Silver Medal, which honours the KSR student with the highest academic standing at the time of graduation.

Why did you choose the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (BScKIN) degree within the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation?

I chose a BScKin because I knew that I wanted to continue into either medicine or physical therapy post-graduation and felt that kinesiology would give me a good base understanding of physiology and anatomy. I have always had a keen interest in the human body and love being physically active, so it was the perfect blend of these passions. I still vividly remember receiving an acceptance to the program and being ecstatic.

What was your favourite class and why?

My favorite course was by far KIN 400-Human Gross Anatomy. It was such a surreal experience to be able to work on human cadavers and I would recommend anyone who gets the opportunity to take the course to do so. That hands-on component is so much more engaging than learning from a textbook and really allows you to grasp the course content. I have always been a huge anatomy fan, but this course kicked that into overdrive, and I will admit that for the majority of the semester I could be found working away in the lab because I loved it so much.

What has been your most memorable experience at KSR and why?

I think my most memorable experience would be getting involved in the volunteer community. In the second year of my degree, I began volunteering for the Steadward Centre for Personal & Physical Achievement and, since then, I have not looked back. Unfortunately, my plans to volunteer during the spring programs have been derailed because of COVID-19; however, I look forward to returning when it is safe to do so. I absolutely love the population that I got to work with here, and it sparked a new interest in stroke and spinal injury rehabilitation which I hope to pursue moving forward.

What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced as a student and how did you overcome these challenges?

A huge challenge for any student is learning to balance all the different demands placed on them. For me, it took time and patience to develop the ability to juggle my studies, part-time employment, volunteering, relationships, and my health and well being. I think the best way to tackle the challenges that arise at any point in life is to surround yourself with a strong support system. It is crucial to realize that it is okay to ask for help and that you do not have to go through things on your own. I am extremely thankful for my friends and family who were by my side throughout this experience to provide reassurance and a shoulder to lean on.

What does it mean to you to be awarded the Governor General’ Silver Medal?

I am extremely honoured to be awarded the Governor General’s Silver Medal. This is my greatest academic accomplishment to date, and I feel that it truly speaks to the hard work and dedication that has been directed to my studies over the past four years. I am proud of this accomplishment and look forward to continuing to pursue excellence in my academics.

What was key to your academic success?

A lot of coffee, haha, but in all seriousness, I think the key was learning to believe in myself and not let individual setbacks discourage me. Setbacks are a part of life and I believe that once you are able to accept that, then you are able to continue pushing forward regardless of what you face. We are the authors of our own story and when you believe in your ability to direct your life it is a truly powerful thing. Success takes commitment and hard work, but without believing in your abilities you will fall short.

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

I completed my practicum at REP Physio, a private clinic here in Edmonton. My role was an “exercise focused kinesiologist”, which essentially entailed building and leading patients through exercise programs to rehabilitate various conditions. On top of this, I got the opportunity to perform subjective assessments, cupping, and some manual therapy, as well as broaden my knowledge in the field. The team of physical therapists and kinesiologists that I worked alongside were amazing and they really challenged me. It was hands down one of my favourite parts of my degree and re-assured me that I am on the path to doing what I love.

What is next for you after graduation?

I will be returning to the University of Alberta to begin the Master of Science in Physical Therapy program come August. I am extremely thankful to have the opportunity to further my education and could not be happier that it will be at the University of Alberta. Four years have gone by incredibly fast, but I am eager to start a new adventure and build a career that I love.

Do you have any advice for current, graduating or future KSR students?

Current and future KSR students, get involved! I know we hear it a lot, but it could not be stressed enough. Whether it be through volunteering, joining a club, doing research, or even attending campus events, being involved truly adds to the university experience. For my fellow graduates, be proud of yourself, this is a huge accomplishment. Go out and continue to do great things.

Do you have anything to add?

I want to give a huge thank you to all my fellow students, professors, mentors, and friends I have made along the way. I could not have achieved this without you!