I am often asked why top awards like the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship place so much value on community service, or why we emphasize participating in events such as the upcoming London Health Research Day and Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competitions.
There are many reasons as to why getting involved in extracurricular activities matters, but I believe the main reason is that the goal of any advanced education experience should be to assist in the production of a well-rounded person who is capable of excelling in many areas.
I’m a developmental biologist, and nothing inspires me more than trying to understand how a single cell zygote can, nine months later, result in an amazing bundle of joy emerging into this world. But being a newborn is just a beginning as well, as life is a series of growth opportunities.
Your education is an ongoing developmental event that, if you are lucky, continues throughout your lifetime. Your education is punctuated by a mixture of formal and less formal experiences that collectively build your reservoirs of knowledge, experience and character that collectively define who you are as a person and impact what you will do throughout your lifetime.
Here are some ways extracurricular activities can impact your life:
Collectively these positive takeaways contribute to the generation of successful leaders that are experts in their fields but also well-rounded individuals with strong social values, ethics and desires to improve conditions in this world and advance human quality of life.
I know this sounds like pretty heady stuff, but building a well-rounded person ready to take on the world is a lifelong process. We believe that your undergraduate and graduate education should construct a solid foundation for that process to enact itself throughout your life.
Become experts in your research area, become interested in a couple of charities, and make sure you submit your abstract for consideration for presentation at this year’s London Health Research Day and sign up for the upcoming 3MT competition. I want to learn about your research, as does the whole Schulich Medicine & Dentistry community.
Get out there, have fun with extracurricular activities, and build a great life.
Andrew J. Watson, PhD
Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies