Convocation ‘23: Devika Shreekumar, BSc Biological Sciences, Dean's Gold Medal in Science

Donna McKinnon - 08 June 2023


Studying biological sciences and psychology was the ideal educational experience for Devika Shreekumar, who had always been interested in the interplay between the mind and the body. 

“The science courses improved my scientific literacy as well as my critical and analytical skills,” says Devika, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in medicine as early as this fall.  

Looking for leadership roles inside and outside of campus — and opportunities to break out of her comfort zone — Devika served as co-president with the U of A chapter of Heart 4 Heart, a student-run nonprofit organization driven by a mission to provide life-saving surgeries for children in developing countries born with congenital heart defects. She also worked with Science FUNdamentals as a volunteer and advocate for STEM education in elementary schools, using interactive play to demonstrate basic science principles.   

This spring, Devika’s hard work was recognized with the Dean's Gold Medal in Science, awarded to the convocating student from the general program in the Faculty of Science who has shown the highest distinction in scholarship. 

Congratulations Devika!


What led you to choose your current area of study, and why the U of A for your studies?

Since I was young, I have always been interested in biology, especially learning about the human body — which led me to choose a major in biological sciences. I got my first introduction to psychology in high school and was curious to learn about the human mind, so a minor in psychology was perfect to follow that interest.

I specifically chose to study at University of Alberta because my friends and family are close and U of A has a great reputation for research and academics.

Tell us about your experience in your program.

As a high school student entering university, I didn't really know what to expect. My experience at the U of A and the Faculty of Science has definitely allowed me to grow personally and academically. The science courses have improved my scientific literacy as well as my critical and analytical skills.

Outside of academics, being a student motivated me to break out of my comfort zone and take on leadership roles in student groups such as Heart 4 Heart, Science FUNdamentals and Student Volunteer Campus Community. This was an amazing opportunity to work together with other students for a common goal while engaging with communities inside and outside U of A. 

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at U of A?

If I had to choose one, it would be when I was volunteering with Science FUNdamentals. During my last presentation to my elementary school class, the teacher surprised us with thank you cards that were written by the children for teaching them science. Their cards were full of cute drawings and sweet messages. I had such a fun time doing science presentations for the class. I hope that at least some of them will choose to study science at U of A one day!

Tell us about your favourite professor and/or class.

There were many professors that were passionate about what they taught and made class enjoyable. It's hard to choose just one, but Roy Frenzel from PSYCH 239, abnormal psychology,  made every class unique. He had so many stories and examples to share from his own experience as a forensic psychologist which added a new perspective to the course material. 

Abnormal psychology is also an incredibly interesting class and Dr. Frenzel made the class even better. I would highly recommend students to take this class if possible!

What advice do you have for current and future students?

My advice for students would be to put yourself out there and pursue new opportunities! The U of A has a lot to offer in terms of volunteer, leadership, research and job opportunities. Explore what interests you and do your best to make time to do activities outside of studying. It is also okay to make mistakes or fail. Everyone's journey is unique and you have the strength to overcome whatever obstacles you may face. Lastly, I hope most of all that you take time to engage in self-care and enjoy your time as a student!

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

I'm excited to celebrate convocation with my friends and family! I will likely be having dinner with my friends and family to celebrate my journey at U of A. Their support made it possible for me to complete my degree, so I am immensely grateful to them. 

What's next after graduation?

I'm planning on starting a master’s degree at U of A. I hope to use the skills that I will learn to pursue a career in medicine. I look forward to continuing my academic and research journey!


Devika joins fellow medal recipients Christy Chan (Lieutenant-Governor's Gold Medal in Science) and Brandon Truong (Gold Medal in Science).