"And although I'm at least a little terrified for what the future holds, in the end, I'm much more excited than afraid."

Bachelor of Science graduate Erin Yue offers parting words to her fellow Spring '18 science grads.

Erin Yue - 7 June 2018

Like many other students, when I was first enrolled at the University of Alberta, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree, much less with my life. Now, standing here four years later, I'm in a much better position than when I had started; because now instead of having no ideas, my problem is that I have too many of them!

Nowadays, many students are expected to at least have an idea of what they want to pursue as a career before they enter university. For me, university was a place to explore different options, have a lot of fun, new adventures, and learn about different career paths as well as myself.

For me, that meant trying new courses and pursing an interdisciplinary degree, volunteering and getting involved with various campus and community organizations, and really learning to be open to new experiences and adventures. While it's great to have goals to strive towards, it's also important to remember that it's natural to grow and change as a person. Those goals might shift as you gain new experiences. You can't always control what happens, but you can control how you react and adapt to all the things that happen throughout your life.

Academically, my degree hit a turning point when I decided to take an introductory botany course in my second year to fulfill some biological sciences lab credits. What I wasn't expecting was for this course to not only inspire me to take more botany and systematics courses but also to introduce me to an area of research that interests me.

In addition to discovering some potential career paths, I've met some incredible people and have had some amazing adventures throughout my degree. That includes everything from volunteering with various campus and community organizations like Week of Welcome, the Interdepartmental Science Students Society, and Science Mentors, to playing intramural volleyball, and even going to the dark side by choosing an Arts minor (no, not in psychology, but in spanish language and literature). I also completed a Certificate in International Learning which pushed me to do things that I wouldn't have otherwise considered, like traveling to Mexico to assist with an ethnobotanical research project, and later moving to Brazil for a study abroad term.

Over the last four years, I've been introduced to some unbelievably talented and driven people that have an infinite amount of passion for the things that they do. I've also met some equally amazing people that have absolutely no clue what direction they're heading, who are just as passionate and inspiring; which just goes to show that you don't always have to know where you're going. Sometimes it is just good to enjoy the moment, explore the possibilities, and take advantage of the opportunities that life has in store.

One of the most important things I've learned over the past four years, is that there are an endless number of potential career paths beyond those few that you're exposed to in grade school or that are proposed by your parents, and that it's absolutely okay to change your mind along the way.

No matter what the future holds, I'll always be grateful for the last four years here at the University of Alberta; the friends I've made, the experiences I've had, and the opportunities provided that have allowed me to discover my interests and grow as a person. And although I'm at least a little terrified for what the future holds, in the end, I'm much more excited than afraid.

For each and every graduate in this room, I hope that you too have been able to discover or pursue your passions and I wish you all the best in your future endeavours, whatever they may be. I hope that you are able to look back on the past few years as a time of growth and development, and at least a little fun.