Celebrating the graduates of Spring 2020: Sana Bibi

June 12 marked the first virtual celebration of convocation for the class of Spring 2020. Join us in celebrating graduates like Sana Bibi.

News Staff - 13 June 2020

After years of study and hard work, Faculty of Science graduates celebrated the culmination of their programs at the University of Alberta’s first-ever virtual convocation on June 12

As we take this opportunity to recognize the achievements of our graduates, join us in meeting Sana Bibi, who graduated with a Bsc with Honors in cell biology. Bibi shares her thoughts on her studies at UAlberta, support from her mother and her daughter, and a heartwarming story of the perils of winter frost—and the warmth of campus kindness.

What led you to pick the University of Alberta for your studies?

When I decided to move back to Canada from Pakistan, the University of Alberta was a great candidate for my post-secondary studies as my family lived in Edmonton. I chose UAlberta because of the wide variety of programs that it offers. Initially, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do in the sciences, so I enrolled in a general degree to discover and learn more about the various majors in this faculty.

Tell us about your experience in the Faculty of Science.

My experience in the Faculty of Science has been incredible. The people are very welcoming and always willing to lend a hand. The students are beyond kind. I have met so many amazing people just by working up the courage to say hello to the person next to me in several lectures. I have become close friends with several of these individuals.

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at UAlberta?

It's really hard to pinpoint just a single memory, but I would say that all of my favorite memories involve the incredible people that I have met on campus. One day, I had an appointment with someone in the Education building right after my class in CCIS. I had to drop off a container roughly the size of two shoe boxes. It wasn't that heavy, but with the crowds after class I was running late, so I started speed-walking. I had totally forgotten about the frost that morning! The next thing I remember is looking at the sky and a couple of people helping me up. Somebody gave me the container that had slipped out of my hand and everyone was asking me if I was okay. I forgot about being embarrassed and was just amazed at how incredible the people at UAlberta are. I didn't know these people and yet, they all stopped to help a complete stranger. I couldn't help myself. I smiled at them, said I was okay, and went on my way. I have always tried to reciprocate that kindness in my day-to-day life.

What advice do you have for current and future students at the Faculty of Science?

Be open to the opportunities that are available to you. If you want to participate in an activity including research, job or clubs, go after it. The worst that can happen is that you may not get it. Do not take this personally—it could be as simple as space restrictions. Plus, you will always learn something new in the process, such as learning how to write an email to a professor, knowing what to expect at an interview, or how to approach new people.

Also, say hello to the person next to you in your classes! You may find some of your best friends that way.

How have you spent your time during COVID-19 distancing?

I have had a lot of time to catch up with myself. Sometimes, we become so involved in our activities (including school) that we forget or neglect ourselves. So I have had an opportunity to reflect on what's important to me and what I wish to do next. I have also spent a lot of time with my four-year-old daughter. She now knows the alphabet and is able to spell her name both verbally and in writing. 

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

It's not just my convocation—it's also my mom and my daughter's convocation. These two people have done a lot for me to get here. My mom started looking after my nine-month-old daughter in 2016 so that I could attend university. I owe it all to her. My daughter has cried after me numerous times as I had to leave. I am going to get these two something for putting up with me and a cake for everyone else!

What's next after graduation?

I have a few paintings that I need to finish. One is a ballerina dancing in the rain at night and the other is a ship out at sea. I am really excited to finish these. I am also hoping to get into graduate school, so I'll likely be back at UAlberta in September.