Have you met … Sherr Wadson?

This Class of ’72 alumna credits a training course in high school for leading her to a fun and fulfilling career.

29 November 2022

When Sherr Wadson (BA RedAdm, ’72) was finishing her degree in the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, she remembers walking around campus feeling very sad at the thought of never seeing her University of Alberta classmates again. Determined not to let that happen, she came up with a great way of staying in touch in writing, and with the support of the Alumni Association that tradition continued for 20 years. Once that came to an end, the role of class organizer felt like the perfect fit for this grad, who loves reunions.

We caught up with Wadson to find out more about what she’s been doing since graduation and why it’s so important to her to stay connected with her fellow alumni.

What have you been up to since graduation?
After two years in Fort McMurray Parks and Recreation and Alberta Culture, Youth and Recreation Edmonton, then 18 months hitchhiking and living in Europe and Britain, I enjoyed four years in Recreation and Volunteer Services at Edmonton's Glenrose Hospital. A decade break for family and more education was followed by 25 years on staff at three Edmonton seniors activity centres; most memorable were the last nine years leading up to my 2017 retirement from South East Edmonton Seniors Association, where I've also volunteered since 1993. 

What drew you to a degree in recreational administration?
One evening a week throughout high school, I attended the high school recreation training course that was designed to train staff for summer work on city playgrounds. The course and work were more fun than I could ever have wished for and the “plus” was a co-worker who was in recreational administration; the more I talked with her about it, the more I fell in love with it as a potential career choice.

What is your favourite memory from the U of A?
There are many wonderful memories, but perhaps one that stands out is from the year we decided to build a slide for the annual ice-sculpture contest. We stacked (too many) hay bales on our spot in front of the Administration Building and, much to our disappointment, we didn't get them all covered with snow by the deadline. I left campus sad and very late that night BUT when I arrived the next morning I was overjoyed... while it was no work of art, our sculpture was crawling with young kids lining up and sliding down! 

What advice would you give to current students?
Someone wiser than I has said something like, “Find a job you love and you won't work a day in your life” and I couldn't add a thing to that. 

In this area of work, from Day 1 you are warned that our chosen profession will forever involve defending the value of recreation and working with a small budget. I remember someone said we'd be expected to “do more and more with less and less till we were able to do absolutely everything with absolutely nothing.”

In that context, it’s so important to find the fun in your work. I’ve tried to find the FUN in the FUNdamentals of every job I ever had. 

What makes the Class of 1972 memorable?
We were a small class (about 25-30) so had all required courses together. We worked together, studied together, socialized together, and over four years I think we came to care very much about each other.

What inspired you to organize a class reunion?
Walking across the quad in spring of '72 I was hit hard with the realization that after convocation I would never see some of my classmates again. I was determined to do my best to not lose contact and that Christmas the Alumni Association allowed me to invite my fellow grads to send me a short update on life since graduation. I collated their contributions and Alumni Affairs sent a copy to every grad. We did that for about 20 years till budget cuts made it impossible to continue. A few years later I jumped at the chance of trying to organize a reunion and have been class organizer ever since.

How did it feel to be back on campus and take part in U of A Days?
My four years on campus were some of the best of my life and through the years I've taken every opportunity to be on campus. This year I saw a few classmates for the first time in 50 years and it doesn't get any better than that!

What keeps you coming back for reunions? 
I'm thankful for the education I was given here and for lifelong friendships that began here. I'm proud of my alma mater. If, by any chance, anyone wonders about that pride, I'd invite them to come to Alumni Awards night... just once ought to do it! My guest one year commented at the end of the evening, “I am really proud ... and I didn't even go here!”

I love reunions. I've been at dinner with a tableful of strangers but just our common time on campus drew us together throughout the evening.

What is your favourite memory from the reunion? 
There are too many great memories to choose just one favourite, but being one of three from our class to receive a 50th-anniversary commemorative medallion in the historic Convocation Hall was very special.


Interested in reconnecting with your former classmates and celebrating a graduation milestone in 2023? The Office of Alumni Relations offers support and information to class organizers; see here (https://www.ualberta.ca/alumni/events/alumni-weekend/class-organizer-faq/index.html) for details and contact us (org@ualberta.ca) today!