Graduate reflects on school experience

Special to the Times
Ashley Croswell

Where has the time gone? When they say it flies by. . . they are not kidding!
It seems just like yesterday when I received my letter of acceptance in the mail from the University of Winnipeg. Fast forward four years’ time and I am extremely excited to announce that I have successfully completed my Honours Bachelor of Kinesiology degree. I truly would not be able to say this without the guidance and support from many Rainy River District teachers, university professors, friends and family along the way. As a young student that moved to Winnipeg to pursue an undergraduate degree, I would never have thought that it would feel so bitter-sweet to say goodbye to a school, a faculty, and to the Winnipeg community that I have grown to love. The lessons, experiences, friends and community will always be with me, and my undergraduate years will forever be cherished.
My dream is to continue my education to be a family doctor in a small, rural, northern community, like the one I grew up in, in order to give back to the communities that need doctors the most.
As a high school student deciding what career path to choose, it can be stressful, uncertain and defiantly exciting to be taking those next steps towards a future career. If there is any advice I can give to high school students looking at possible University/College or Trades programs to attend, it would be to choose a program that you know you will love doing; choose something that excites you, something that you are passionate about, and something that will motivate you each and everyday, because only then will you know that it is the right choice for you. When choosing a program it is also beneficial to research what the school offers to see if anything spikes your interest. I chose the University of Winnipeg because I was interested in extending my athletic career by being committed to the Women’s Wesmen Basketball team, which I played on for two seasons. I was also interested in staying close to home for my undergraduate years, so by attending the University of Winnipeg, it allowed me to travel home for special occasions and holidays.
My four years of University life consisted of having a full-course schedule, balancing multiple classes and labs a day, working, while still managing study time, assignments and exams.
With the transition from high school to post-secondary studies, it sometimes felt impossible to find a way to volunteer and give back to the new community I now lived in.
Born and raised in the small town of Emo, it has taught me how important it is to give back to a community you love so dearly. I believe this is why I always find myself making that extra time for the little things, such as volunteering, in any community that I live in, simply because it gives me joy. Being introduced to volunteering at a young age has given myself endless opportunities and experiences to meet new people, to be involved in something bigger and to make a difference, which is a reward in and among itself. One of my most cherished accomplishment was receiving the 2016 Fort Frances Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award.
It encouraged me to continue my volunteer efforts on and off-campus during my undergraduate years at the University of Winnipeg. I have volunteered as a Human Anatomy student tutor, an Accessibility Services Student Note Taker and the within the university’s Diabetes Awareness Education program, to name a few. Within the Winnipeg community
I have also contributed to raising funds for Motionball, which is an organization that helps Special Olympic athletes with intellectual disabilities achieve their athletic goals and lead happier and healthier lives. Through the faculty of Kinesiology I was also introduced to opportunities to be evolved in a Parkinson’s Disease Exercise Program where I was able to assist and create individualized and group programming to combine physical activity, socialization and mental stimulation for people living with the disease.
This year I was awarded the Kinesiology and Athletic Therapy Students Association Scholarship and three other scholarships for my volunteer contributions within the University of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg community. Though recognition is appreciated, I do not volunteer for accolades. I volunteer because I am passionate about the organizations I volunteer with and I enjoy making a difference in my school and community in any way that I can. Without volunteering, I would not be this strong, independent, academically driven woman that I am today, and for that I am truly grateful.
This school year I was elected onto the Kinesiology and Athletic Therapy Student Association (KATSA) as the Vice President Kinesiology representative, which allowed me to make a difference within my own university. Many students came to me for advice. I believe that having an older companion for guidance throughout university is extremely important and I hope that I was able to be that someone for at least a few students through my years as an executive member.
This University executive position allowed me to use my creativity with organizing campus student events such as Kinesiology week, Inbody Scans, intermural sporting events, Winnipeg Harvest food drives and more! I was able to work alongside other executive members, professors and faculty members within the university in order to the express student opinions, bring forth issues, and change the university experience for the better. The hours that I spent working to create change became invigorating, and my connection to my school grew stronger. I find that many students are timid or unsure of ways to get involved in their early years of university, but regardless of when you start to get involved, once you do, your school experience becomes more memorable, your network of peers starts to grow and your experiences seem to lead to other opportunities.
As for the future, my volunteering contribution will not end here, and I look forward to new opportunities and experiences that future volunteering opportunities will offer in the next community I am in.
As future school plans may seem uncertain at the moment for many high school, undergraduate and graduate students due to today’s circumstances, it is important for all continuing and graduating students to not feel discouraged, but to instead trust the process, continue to follow your dreams and to be confident that you will get where you are meant to be, when it is meant to be.
I congratulate and wish all the 2020 graduates, near and far, all the best in their future endeavors.
We are the future!