BMSc student graduates with top honours

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Brains & Brawn

Carl Shen describes his sport in track and field as one of life's fairest endevours; the amount of effort you put in, is the amount of success you get out. And Shen has proven that phrase to be true not only in athletics but in all aspects of his academic and extracurricular life at Western.

Shen will be graduating from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry's BMSc program on June 14 with one of Western's highest honours. He will receive the Honorable Howard G. Ferguson Award, intended to recognize a student who has shown the highest achievement during his or her university career in athletics, scholarship and university life. He is also the recipient of the Ontario University Association's male community service award given to those demonstrating outstanding achievement in track and field, academics and community service.

Shen is not only one of Schulich's top students academically, but was a silver and bronze medalist in triple jump as part of the Mustang's Men's Track and Field team. And when he wasn't studying or training, he volunteered his time at Parkwood Hospital, in the research lab at Robarts Research Institute and Sunnybrook Hospital and served as an active member of the Chinese Student Association and resident advisor at Delaware Hall.

"I have found having the right outlook makes all the difference," Shen says of balancing his many commitments. "You will never find enough time in the day for everything, but finding opportunities I was passionate about made finding the time a lot easier."

One of those passions is medical sciences. Shen worked with Caroline Schild-Poulter in her lab at Robarts looking at the molecular biology of cancer. He joined her lab in his second year after earning an undergrad student research award from NSERC giving him the opportunity to work for four months in the lab through the summer. The following year he continued as a volunteer student.

"He was juggling his classes, track and field and was coming to the lab to do experiments. And with all of that, he never appeared stressed out and was always able to do meaningful things in the lab," says Schild-Poulter. His work in her lab led to a summer job at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Even with all of his successes and accomplishments, Shen says one of the biggest highlights for him personally was being part of the men's team that won the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship this year for the first time ever. "It was the perfect way to top off a four year career. I still can't believe it happened," he says.

Track and field head coach Vickie Croley says that Shen is a "Champion Student-Athlete" and describes him as one of Western's finest ever. "Carl's contributions and achievements are exceptional. Because of his modesty you would never know he has accomplished even half of what he has," she says.

After graduation, Shen is off to medical school in the fall, and credits his decision to become a doctor to his experience at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

"The BMSc program gave me the chance to draw from all the disciplines across the medical sciences and figure out my interests from there," he says. "That freedom and chance for discovery is really what undergrad should be all about."