Grace Forster (BA '21) studied political science at ulethbridge. After a severe medical issue arose, she was forced to leave university in first year, but returned to complete her degree shortly after. She gave her first major presentation at the U of L Undergraduate Philosophy Colloquium. Her uLethbridge experience is unique and diverse, from working in the Bookstore, learning the French language and playing the saxophone, to completing her undergraduate thesis. This fall she will begin a new journey at McGill University in the Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Civil Law program, in hopes of contributing to real solutions to world problems.

What is your most memorable uLethbridge experience?
My most memorable uLethbridge experience was doing my first major presentation at the U of L Undergraduate Philosophy Colloquium. Through that experience, I learned a lot about doing research and presenting my ideas with confidence, and the importance of well-placed humorous clipart as a tool to break up mind-boggling philosophical problems.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time in the Faculty of Arts & Science at uLethbridge?
The most important lesson I learned is that a major setback can bring about so many opportunities. In my first semester of university I was forced to drop out due to a serious and unexpected medical issue. I felt like all my plans were completely derailed. However, my extra-semester off meant more time with my family, and I learned so much about my adaptability and the kindness and accommodating nature of the U of L community. I had job and course opportunities I wouldn't have had if I had done my degree on the timeline I intended, and made friends and connections that I would have completely missed out on.

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your uLethbridge experience?
It is genuinely impossible to pick one, because so many people positively influenced my journey at the U of L. I would like to thank Dr. Alan Siaroff for encouraging me to do my undergraduate thesis and develop projects I was passionate about, Dr. Jansen for fostering my love of data and statistics, and Dr. Hale for pushing me harder to improve the quality of my work than any other professor. I would like to thank the bookstore team for hiring me for my first real job and going above and beyond to take care of all my textbook needs. I would like to thank Dr. Gerwin for teaching me almost the entire French language from scratch, allowing me to pursue a career I am passionate about and Dr. Chee Meng Low for taking me on as a saxophone student, despite my sometimes limited time to practice sufficiently. I would also like to thank the whole philosophy department for encouraging my love of big questions and logical problems. Finally, I would like to thank Ken Kellet. Every student has a low point where they are convinced they should give up, and Ken Kellet showed me the compassion that helped me keep going.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?
This fall I will be starting at McGill University in the Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Civil Law program. My goal is to study either constitutional or policy law and eventually work in government to help formulate the types of policies needed to face the challenges of our future. The challenges of COVID-19, Climate Change, Racism and Discrimination, and Globalization have shaped and are going to continue to shape the rest of our lives. I hope to use the tools I have gained in my education at the U of L and in my future education to contribute to positive solutions.

What does the Gold Medal in Arts recognition mean to you?
This award is a wonderful acknowledgement of my hard work over the past four years. It is an honour to be recognized by this academic community that has given me so much, and I hope that it serves as a small confirmation for those who helped me along the way that your time and effort were well spent.

What advice would you give to those who are about to begin their journey at uLethbridge?
Don't be afraid to ask for help and make connections in unexpected places. There are so many people who work and study at the university who are passionate about what you are passionate about and want to help you succeed. It is easy to feel alone and overwhelmed in your first year, but if you take the first step and reach out, you will be surprised by the community you can find.