ORILLIA — Zoe Dhillon’s is graduating Saturday from Lakehead University in Orillia.
And she wants to come back.
Not to take graduate studies, but to teach.
She will be “the Voice” of the Class” at convocation ceremonies June 8 here at Rotary Place.
In an advance copy of remarks she is giving, Dhillon will “focus on recognizing and appreciating the experiences that students have shared throughout their time together,” says a university release.
“The goal of my speech is to acknowledge the ways in which we have grown over the past few years at Lakehead, and to cherish the fact that we have gone through this process together,” she said.
“I also want to highlight some of the amazing opportunities that make Lakehead Orillia so unique, like small class sizes and accessible communication with our skilled professors.”
Dhillon will be starting a Master of Arts in English and a Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies at York University this September. After that, she plans to pursue a PhD to continue her research.
“My dream is to become a professor of English literature – preferably at Lakehead Orillia,” she said.
Dhilon is one of more than 400 students are eligible to graduate this year.
The university will also recognize two exceptional individuals at this year’s ceremony: internationally recognized contemporary artist Charles Pachter will receive this year’s honorary degree, and Mark Douglas will be awarded the 2019 Civitas Award. The honorary degree and Civitas Award will be conferred at the start of the convocation ceremonies.
The ceremony can be viewed live at www.lakeheadu.ca/convocation-stream
Before attending Lakehead Orillia, Dhillon spent a year studying at a larger university where she said she felt more like a number, than a valued member of a diverse campus. “It was difficult to meet students and professors in my own program, so I essentially felt alone throughout the process of my degree.”
After returning to Orillia for the summer, she says she became enamoured by the small town and its wonderful citizens. Since she felt increasingly disheartened by that larger university, she decided to apply to Lakehead Orillia on a whim –—only a month before classes started
“At Lakehead Orillia things are so different, which is why I really believe our campus is a special, magical place. The small class sizes provide an opportunity for students to develop amazing interpersonal relationships and to work together on a variety of projects. In addition, we have the opportunity to work with our professors more than at other universities, and to benefit from their knowledge and expertise in a very accessible manner.”
She felt her paralysis fade away after starting at Lakehead Orillia. This sense of ease allowed her to take on several interesting roles on campus, including as the Orillia breau cief for Lakehead’s Argus student newspaper, the writing coach at Lakehead Orillia, and as a research assistant for a Lakehead professor.
“Lakehead has also provided me with the opportunity to volunteer at a number of campus events, to publish my writing, and to speak at several conferences both in Canada and the U.S. Lakehead also gave me the boost in personal confidence and communication skills that I needed in order to be successful within those opportunities,” she said.
Another highlight for Dhillon was volunteering at the Lakehead University English booth for information sessions and open houses on campus.
“I absolutely love it when prospective students come up with the same enthusiasm and interest that I had when I was in their position. As I’m sure you can tell by now, I think Lakehead is the best school out there and I feel so unbelievably grateful to be here, so I love sharing my stories and my feedback about the school.”
At convocation, Dhillon will receive a Dean’s Scholar Award for Social Sciences and Humanities along with an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a specialization in English. She also received two external scholarships and the Lakehead Leader Award for Academic Excellence during her time at Lakehead.