This year's winner of the Silver Medal of the Governor General (Undergraduate), Janelle Bykowski (BSc '21), is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. At uLethbridge, Janelle enjoyed her time as a member of the U of L's mixed dragon boat team, and conducting research in chemistry professor Dr. Michael Gerken's lab. Janelle completed two independent studies and an honours thesis under his supervision and will be continuing her education at the University of Alberta next fall. Janelle remains positive and open to new experiences and life-lessons, even during challenging situations.

What is your most memorable uLethbridge experience?

My most memorable uLethbridge experience was being a member of the mixed dragon boat team. I had never participated in dragon boating prior to beginning university, so it was exciting to try something new!

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time in the Faculty of Arts & Science at uLethbridge?

The most important lesson that I learned during my time at the University of Lethbridge is to take time to appreciate those who help shape our life journey. Although university can be challenging at times, having the opportunity to attend a post-secondary institution is a privilege, and expressing gratitude not only helps us to connect with others, but also reminds us of how fortunate we really are.

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your uLethbridge experience?

I would like to thank the entire Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry for supporting me in my academic pursuits throughout my undergraduate degree. I had the opportunity to study under some amazing professors and instructors who continuously inspired me to put forth my best effort through the dedication they demonstrated toward their own teaching and research activities each day. In particular, I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Michael Gerken, for welcoming me as an undergraduate researcher into his lab and for sharing his expertise with me over the past four years. I was fortunate to work in Dr. Gerken's lab for three consecutive summers, and I also completed two independent studies and an Honours Thesis under his supervision. Participating in chemistry research was definitely a highlight of my uLethbridge experience!

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

I am looking forward to continuing my education at the University of Alberta in the fall.

What does  the Silver Medal of the Governor General mean to you?

I am truly honoured to receive this academic recognition. I have many fellow graduates who are highly deserving of such acknowledgement, so I feel very fortunate to have been selected as a medal winner this year.

What advice would you give to those who are about to begin their journey at uLethbridge?

I would advise prospective students to embrace this new stage in their academic journey and welcome whatever opportunities they encounter in their post-secondary career. It is important to remain positive even during challenging situations and to take advantage of new circumstances to expand your horizons and learn more about yourself.