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Finding the silver lining - Kate Dillon, BMSc Class of 2014

As Kate Dillon waits to hear back from medical schools about acceptance into their undergraduate medical programs, she is reflecting on all of the things that have brought her here.

In her fourth year of an honors specialization in medical sciences at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Dillon has aspirations to attend medical school here as well. It was a rugby accident in grade nine that left her partially paralyzed for 18 hours that convinced her to go into the medical sciences.  

“I was at Sick Kids on and off for four or five months,” she said. “I was lucky to be able to leave there safe and sound, but a lot of the kids there don’t.”

The accident left her unable to play sports which had been a big part of who she was until that point. She was devastated, however admits it helped to shape her future by changing her focus. “Because I couldn’t play sports, I found other things.

"I got involved in student government and focused on my academics and developed new goals and new things that I wanted to do because I had to.”

Dillon brought her new-found passion for student government to Western. She is currently the vice-president academic for the Science Students’ Council and her role involves giving the students a voice to be able to take a more active role in their education.

This year she is helping to spearhead a campaign to free up more study space for science students. “It is a great example of us stepping up and saying, this is what we want, and we are willing to take an active role in getting that,” she said.

In addition to her involvement in student government, Dillon also volunteers her time as part of Making Waves, a student-led club on campus that provides barrier-free swim access to children with specific needs. “It is the bright spot to my week,” she said.

Her love for swimming was solidified after her accident when the pool provided opportunity for therapy and access to an activity that was safe for her to engage in.

“That accident is a big part of why I’m here now and doing what I’m doing,” she said. “So I can only look back and smile and say, ‘it’s all part of the journey!’”

Although both of Dillon’s parents are graduates of Schulich Medicine and her sister is a Western grad, she actually didn’t plan to come to Western herself.

“I didn’t want to love it here,” she said explaining that it was an entrance scholarship that influenced her to come to Western. “I wanted to be different, I wanted to buck the trend and not follow in everyone else’s footsteps, but then I came here and I loved it and they all said, ‘I told you so!’”