Celebrating the graduates of Spring 2020: Jessica Wang

Undergraduate student Jessica Wang graduates with Lieutenant-Governor's Gold Medal and CD Howe Memorial Fellowship.

12 June 2020

Today the Faculty of Science celebrates with our graduates the culmination of their years of hard work and their many accomplishments along their academic journeys. As the University of Alberta holds its first-ever virtual convocation, one of the members of the class of Spring 2020 celebrated today is Jessica Wang.

Wang not only graduates with a BSc Honors in cell biology, but has been recognized with the prestigious Lieutenant-Governor's Gold Medal and the RT Honourable CD Howe Memorial Fellowship, awarded annually to the convocating student who attains the highest overall academic standing throughout their academic program at the University of Alberta.

Congratulations Jessica!

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

I chose the University of Alberta because Edmonton was home. I wanted to stay close to my family and church community, because I knew that I needed a strong support network to help me through the challenges of university. I also wanted to stay in the same city so I could continue in some long-term volunteering commitments with my high school and church. Also, I knew the University of Alberta is a top-notch research institution, and I wanted to explore research opportunities during undergrad. 

Tell us about your experience in the Faculty of Science.

These past years in the Faculty of Science have been a time of exploration and new encounters. I discovered new interests through the electives I took and actually ended up switching into the cell biology program because of them. I was fortunate to do research in labs in a variety of fields, which really opened my eyes to see how the knowledge and skills I was learning could be used beyond post-secondary. I had professors and supervisors who challenged me to think critically about my work instead of rote memorization. At times, it was difficult and frustrating, but looking back, I realize that their mentorship actually helped me to grow as a learner. 

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

I absolutely loved taking The Human Body (ANAT 403), which gives an overview of the human body with dissection labs. The content, my instructors, my classmates, everything was so fun and stimulating. The dissections were probably the coolest thing I did in my undergrad! I was surprised at how the hands-on approach made it so much easier to remember things. Learning from Pierre Lemelin and Daniel Livy, both associate professors of anatomy in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, was such a pleasure: their humour, their kindness, their patient but persistent prodding to help us figure out the answer for ourselves was something I'll never forget. To top it off, my classmates were such inspiring people and I really enjoyed working with them or just hanging out during our pre-lab lunches. 

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

You're not alone in this. Reach out to your family and friends: their support is so critical in helping you through your struggles and they'll be so happy to celebrate your joys with you. Don't be afraid to ask your professor questions, whether it be about lecture content or their research. Talk to your classmates, even if it's just to borrow notes.

Also, try to set aside some time regularly just to rest and chill. Use it to do something that gives you joy, whether that be sleeping, watching Netflix or running. It may feel like that time is wasted or could be better spent being “productive,” but trust me, taking time to be rested makes you so much more effective in your work. 

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

I've been enjoying the extra time with my family. I've also spent more time picking up old hobbies, like reading (I'm currently doing a Jane Austen marathon), drawing, baking and cooking. 

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

I'll probably video call with my friends and family. My brother is also graduating, so I might bake us a cake to celebrate. 

What's next after graduation?

I’ve been accepted to the University of Alberta’s medicine program and so I’ll be in Edmonton for the next four years.