Autumn 2016

Up Front

I’ve always felt there is a newness about the fall. Maybe it’s all those old memories from when I was a student: pulling the cellophane off new textbooks, finding a seat in class, meeting new friends … all those possibilities.

And even for those of us no longer taking our seats in a lecture room, it remains a season of opportunity and adventure. The carefree days of summer have ended but winter has not quite arrived — a seasonal grace period when you can choose to either return to old routines or set off on a new adventure.

My daughter, Caitlyne, is choosing adventure. She graduated from the University of Alberta this summer and is headed to Montreal. She has no job waiting for her there. She’s not enrolled for more schooling. It’s an open journey with next steps to be determined.

As her mother, I’m optimistically terrified.

But then I remember that I was no different. Shortly after finishing my undergrad, I left my job at the Kingston Whig-Standard and moved across the country to Calgary. I had no prospects, no definite plan. It was an adventure baked out of the usual ingredients: ambition, excitement and even a little romance. Once in Calgary, I found a job in business communications that led me to Edmonton, to the University of Alberta and so on and so forth until today.

This issue of New Trail features stories from many alumni who have charted their own paths, plus you can try out a few new adventures of your own: on page 17, you’ll find a U of A-centric Choose Your Own Adventure book. I hope these stories remind you of your own winding roads. The paths you took. Your allies in adventure. The opportunities you seized as well as those that became just a footnote in your story. I hope your memories inspire stories you tell your children or grandchildren. I know they do for me.

Because, of course, success or failure can only be measured in retrospect and — no matter where we are in life — there are always more adventures on the horizon. After all, none of us chooses just an adventure; we choose many.

Thinking about this eases my worries about Caity’s journey. I know she is following her passion. I know she is starting to create a vision for herself. And I know that, through her choices, she’ll discover a path that is hers. Maybe that will be a new job, maybe a new hobby or new friends. Maybe it will lead to yet another adventure in another place. But whatever path she follows, I know she steps onto it well-prepared and eager to test the limits of who she will become.

Mary Pat Barry

Mary Pat Barry, ’04 MA
President, Alumni Association