Celebrating the graduates of Spring 2020: Sheldon Cannon

Join the Faculty of Science in celebrating convocation and the achievements of our graduates—and meet a few members of the class of 2020.

News Staff - 01 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has required a lot of changes, and convocation is no exception. But while this year’s celebration may look a little different, one thing that hasn’t changed is the Faculty of Science’s pride in the achievements of our graduates. Join us each day from June 1 to June 12 as we meet some of the graduating class of Spring 2020 and celebrate the culmination of all their hard work—and join us on June 12 for the University of Alberta's first virtual convocation.

Today, meet Sheldon Cannon, graduating from the BSc Honors program in physiology in the Department of Physiology, as he shares his thoughts on his time at UAlberta, his advice for new students, and what comes next.

What led you to pick UAlberta for your studies?

My friend recommended that I apply, and I chose UAlberta because the school really invested and believed in me as a student. They also offered unique interdisciplinary opportunities, which I was excited about.

Tell us about your experience in the Faculty of Science.

The Faculty of Science gave me opportunities to enrich my education, including the chance to take my first year in the formerly-running Interdisciplinary Science Threshold Experience (InSciTE) program. My instructors were enthusiastic and excellent, helping us appreciate the complexity and interconnectedness of scientific inquiry. Sharing this bonding experience with a small cohort of peers made a massive difference in my first year, and I am super grateful for it.

I also got involved with the Interdepartmental Science Students' Society (ISSS), and I found the opportunity to work together with the Faculty to address student issues really fulfilling. I also wanted to help build a science community and identity through planning events; overall there were lots of opportunities to get involved!

I also got to interact with students from other faculties through the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. It was really neat to get to talk about big issues with peers from the Alberta School of Business and Faculty of Arts, for example. I learned how scientific thinking can differ from other perspectives—and that's okay!

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

One of my favourite memories was when my departmental advisor told me I needed another science credit to graduate, and I ended up finding the hidden gem that is the PALEO 400 Field School with Philip Currie and Eva Koppelhus. I didn't have a background in paleontology, but the instructors let me enrol and learn as we spent three weeks digging for dinosaur fossils right here in Edmonton—how cool is that? I learned a lot from my peers about ancient life. They made it a really fantastic experience.

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

Check out the opportunities available to you outside the traditional lecture hall. You'll find some hidden gems in terms of courses, extracurriculars, certificates, and more on the Academic Calendar, Faculty and Department websites, and from your peers. The ISSS also has a convenient directory on eClass to help you find some of these opportunities.

I'd also recommend getting involved in something that's fun and interests you. Whether that's on campus or in the community, it can be really really rewarding. Overall, it can be overwhelming trying to do everything at once, so pick a couple things, and you can always try something new the next semester.

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

I've spent most of my time finishing up my final coursework and exams for the term, but now I get to spend some time inside relaxing and doing some things I haven't had time for during the busy school year, and I'm enjoying that.

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

My family and I are probably going to spend some quality time together, maybe some movies and games together.

What's next after graduation?

I've applied to medical school, so I'm hoping to hear some good news from those applications. In the meantime, I'll be helping out on the farm this summer and seeing what else I'll be able to do given the current situation.