Get to Know Your Prefects: Lucie U. ’20

Meet Lucie ’20 – a boarding student, who calls Gooderham West her home away from home. Read about all the opportunities and life-changing moments she experienced during her first year at Ridley and what she hopes the final year of high school holds for her.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

My family proposed the idea of going to Ridley, so that I could gather more life experience, since my previous school was very small. I went to class with the same nine people throughout my entire life and that is why Ridley was such a great opportunity to meet new people. Suddenly I knew so many people and I was forced to get to know new people, which was not only very exciting, but is an important experience to have. 

In addition to this, I knew that Ridley has several options when it comes to developing new skills. All these sports, activities and clubs were a great opportunity to try out new things and maybe even find different hobbies.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

Ridley College has a very unique school culture. Ridley really values traditions and legacies, but also principles innovation and positive change. Additionally, Ridley has an amazing reputation and history to be proud of. I am proud to be a Ridleian because it makes me part of a community, which is very special to me and which nobody will be able to take from me.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

The aspect of Ridley that I like the most is the boarding. We, as boarders, and also day students, become a part of this wonderful community. I love this idea of living with friends, developing independence but also experiencing this alternative way of living. Especially the late-night conversations with friends, the spa nights or simply the sharing enhances this experience.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

I have made an enormous number of great experiences and memories in this past year, but one of the most incredible, is the service trip to Malawi. In addition to learning so many things and creating remarkable memories, this trip taught me a lot about life. It also helped me to create unique relationships with some of the students in the Jacaranda School, from our trip and with some of the adults and teachers of our trip.

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

Throughout the past year, I got to know a huge number of incredible girls in my boarding house, Gooderham West. The diversity in nationalities, talents and much more, is not only extremely inspiring but it makes each of us unique. I found so many friends in my house, but I can’t call them friends anymore: many of them are now my sisters. We live through every phase and emotion together, we support each other and if that means staying awake till late at night to comfort somebody you might not even be close friends with, so it is.

Being in a boarding house together just creates this connection and community. We are a big family and even though we might not know each other perfectly, it is comforting to know that there is this supporting light in some darker times.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

I found a lot of new friends at Ridley and I got to know so many amazing and talented people. For me this is a personal accomplishment, since I came from a small school and never got to know many people. 

Also, I feel like I finally found a relatively balanced lifestyle that is suitable to my environment. 

Lastly, I developed many skills that I would have never dreamed of. If you had told me two years ago that I would actually enjoy playing ice hockey, a sport which is not very popular in Germany, I would have never believed it. But I tried it, and even though I am very far from good at it, I count it as a new skill and activity that I enjoy.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

I really enjoy being around so many of the faculty and staff members in different departments. From the cleaning ladies in my house, the security ladies, the sewing room ladies to all my teachers and other employees I have gotten to know, I feel like I established the most wonderful relationships with them, even if it is nothing too major. This is especially true with our former Assistant Head of House, Ms. Delaney, who helped me through a lot of personal and academic challenges and she was there for me whenever I needed a friend.

Also, several of my teachers, specifically Ms. Covent, gave me a lot of power and self-esteem throughout the year. She was very supporting with whatever I needed, and she taught me a lot of things, that are not only useful in our end-of-year exams, but life.

Lastly, I am very grateful for the health center team for being this steady rock of help whenever we students need it. They care so much about us students, not only physically but also mentally.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

I am very excited about seeing great outcomes of certain events such as the organization of Snake Dance, some of the other dances or maybe even simple weekend activities. I am also extremely excited about working together with new departments of the school, that I am unfamiliar with until now, in order to make positive changes and see great outcomes.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

The biggest thing that Ridley prepared me for is that it encouraged me to take on challenges. Ever since I am in Ridley I am much braver, even about the most minor things, but this is an important life skill that Ridley gives to us by presenting us with so many opportunities. A good example of this is public speaking, which was a skill I simply just did not possess before, but now I challenge myself more and more and I try to overcome my fears.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Don’t order too much food, even though everybody goes through that phase. It’s nice in the moment but your money is gone in a heartbeat!

Looking at a broader scope; always keep your spirits lifted and don’t get pulled down by something relatively insignificant, which won’t affect your life in the long term. High school tends to have a lot of unnecessary drama, but it is important to learn from it and overcome it.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Christopher H. ’20

Meet Christopher ’20 – a boarder from Barbados, who is truly grateful for his brothers in Merritt South and the caring environment the House has provided him. Read more to find out how Ridley’s diverse community has prepared him for the future.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I had never lived away from home before and I really enjoy being put out of my comfort zones to try new things. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I am proud to be a Ridleian because there is a sense of community throughout the school that I was very welcome to. I also really like how involved everyone is with activities and helping out around the school.

What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley is living so close to my friends, so that I can see them on weekends and participate in events together.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley memory was camp at the beginning of the school year, when I was able to meet so many new people and take part in the activities.

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of being in Merritt South is that the people are really great and it’s a very accepting and relaxed environment.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment at Ridley has been becoming Prefect!

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

My favorite faculty member is my Assistant Head of House, Mr. Stephenson, because he is very funny and helps me out with advice whenever I need it.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

I am most excited to be able to be around the firepit at Snake Dance, and to be involved and help out with all the school events. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has prepared me for my future by allowing me to interact with so many different people of different ideas and cultures. These interactions open my mind to different ways of thinking and let me experience diversity as well. I also now have a taste of what it’s like to live on my own.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

I would advise that although you may be afraid to live away from your family, enter a new school or even move countries, don’t be. If you put yourself out there and try new things, you’ll have so many new memories and even more opportunities. 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Brendan N. ’20

Meet Brendan ’20 – a proud member of Arthur Bishop East, who has embodied what it means to be consumed in service and knows the impact that giving back can have on someone. Read more about his passion for service, the arts and athletics.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

Coming to Ridley, I was most excited about moving to the St. Catharines community because although my family roots are from Canada and we always spent summer vacations here, I had lived and gone to school overseas my whole life. When I first started, I was most excited about being part of the diverse and multicultural environment at Ridley.  Also, I knew I would be able to continue to pursue my interests in sports and music, but at the same time be challenged by a rigorous IB academic environment.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

As a Ridleian, I am proud of the contribution that Ridley makes to the community, and truly lives by its school motto, Terar Dum Prosim. I am very proud of the positive impact I have had on the children and community during the service opportunities I have had in Guatemala and Malawi over the past three years, and how well-respected Ridley was in contributing to their community.

What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley life is definitely the athletic programme. Soccer has been my lifelong passion and having been a part of the First Boys soccer team for the past three years has been very important and beneficial throughout my Ridley experience. It has strengthened my friendships, my technical skills, as well as my resilience and determination. Furthermore, the integration between academics and athletics has been one of my favorite parts of Ridley life, as being able to balance both is an integral part of life at Ridley.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

Most of my favorite Ridley experiences come from school trips such as camp, service trips, sport tournaments and conferences. If I were to choose one, it would be the service trip to Malawi. For spring break in my Grade 10 and 11 years, I travelled to Malawi, Africa to help out at the Jacaranda School for Orphans. Not only did I feel pride in representing Ridley and embodying our school motto, but I was also able to learn a lot about life in Malawi and grow as a person.

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of being a part of my boarding house is being able to have a place to call home and a group of housemates to share and relax with outside the school environment – my Ridley family. There’s a lot of positive recognition and support within the House. There is so much comradery within the House, and my favorite activities are the House competitions. Although they are friendly competitions, everyone wants to do the best to help their House achieve and win.  

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

Since I came to Ridley in Grade 9, I feel like I have had numerous accomplishments, whether it be in sports, academics and arts. However, I believe being chosen to be Prefect and represent the student body and school is the greatest achievement. I am gratified to be selected by peers and faculty as a leader in the community and hope to live up to my potential as a prefect. 

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

Throughout my years at Ridley, I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with faculty and staff across many areas such as academic, athletics, arts, and service. In each of their specialisms, they all excel in what they do, and they are always so open to sharing their thoughts and guidance with me to help me achieve my full potential. 

However, one teacher that I feel has played an important role during my time at Ridley is Mr. Burke. I have had Mr. Burke as a math teacher for 2 years, in addition to have gone on the service trip to Malawi with him twice. Through experiences in and out of the classroom, Mr. Burke has taught me an incredible amount.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

From when I started at Ridley, I have witnessed many great ambitions of Prefects. As an upcoming Prefect, I am excited about starting new initiatives and continuing traditions. However, I am most excited about the Snake Dance because in my opinion, this ceremony marks the beginning of a new school year and brings the entire school community together for a unique Ridley tradition. It’s always very fun and allows all the students to be themselves and have a great and memorable night to start off the school year.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley’s focus on well-roundedness through academics and a rigorous IB Diploma Programme, focus on health and fitness through its strong athletic programme, and opportunities to experience the arts has prepared me well across all facets of life. More importantly, the friendships and network that I have built will last a lifetime, and I know as a Ridleian, these connections will be invaluable. Ridley has also truly given me the opportunity to flourish both in the areas that I am already strong in, but also helped me develop my other skills.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

I would tell prospective students that Ridley provides you with so many opportunities to step out of your comfort zone and try new things that you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience. Take advantage of that, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Build a strong network of diverse friends that will provide you with support throughout your years here and beyond. 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Oscar S. ’20

Introducing Oscar ’20 – a Prefect who came to Ridley for his Grade 11 year and quickly realized that this was a place he’d be able to flourish. Read how the International Baccalaureate (IB), hockey and boarding programmes have shaped him.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I was excited to play high-level Prep hockey and face new academic challenges in the International Baccalaureate programme. The boarding system allowed me to be excited for new international students and to connect with the diversity of our school. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

Once a tiger, always a tiger. Being a Ridleian brings up the responsibility to follow on 126 years of traditions. To follow the legacies makes me, as a Tiger, more proud than anything else. 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part is the variety of athletics offered in our school. For me, this is important. Providing something for everyone is beneficial for our community as a whole and lead us to greater things.

What has been your favourite Ridley experience/trip/memory?

My favourite memories at Ridley are experienced every single day with all my friends by me. In general, having the feeling of belonging to something more significant is something everyone should experience. 

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

Being away from your family can be tough, but living at Ridley is a lot of fun. I have all my friends two footsteps away from me. This gives us all the opportunity to create bonds that I never thought would have been possible. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

The shift from a German school system and a German hockey league was extreme. Living in a new environment and speaking a new language was hard for me. However, I gave my best and was able to handle everything through hard work and ambition. Overcoming all the difficulties and differences was my most significant personal accomplishment in Ridley and makes me very proud.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member, and why?

Mr. McNiven is one of the best teachers I have ever had. The way he teaches helps me to understand better. Meanwhile, he is also my Head of House, and I had the opportunity to get to know him better and experience his kindness and humour. 

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

As someone who talks for the student body, I am just happy to see all the joy in all the many eyes. Seeing my peers flourish makes me proud.  

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley’s athletics don’t just shape my body, they form my character, personality and mindset. I learned valuable lessons for life. If this isn’t already enough, Ridley allows me to be a member of the IB community. Being a thinker, open-minded and knowledgeable has prepared me excellently for university and life. 

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Don’t be afraid of anything! We will welcome you in September, and you will be a part of our community from day one. I was, one year ago, in the same position, and one thing I learned right away was that nobody will ever be alone. There is a lot of help, and everyone is looking for new friends. Just be open to meet new people, and everything will be fine.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Angela D. ’20

Before the bells chimed for the last time, the Prefect team for the 2019-20 school year was announced, allowing for celebrations to take place and planning for September to begin. These student-leaders took the time to share a little about themselves, so that over the summer months, Ridleians, both new and old, would have a chance to get to know the Tigers that would be guiding them through the year.

Up first, is Angela ’19 – a Mandeville Duck with a remarkable voice that she uses to not only perform for her fellow Tigers, but to speak up for those in need and to spread awareness for causes near and dear to her heart. When she isn’t on stage or singing in the Chapel, she can be found on the volleyball court or the rugby pitch. Check out the interview below to see what makes her proud to be a Ridleian.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I had never been in a boarding house before Ridley, so I was really excited to be introduced to that type of environment. As well, entering Ridley as a freshman was a bit nerve racking because I had also never been in high school before. I was mainly excited to try new things, put myself out there and enjoy the high school experience.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I am proud to be a Ridleian because of all the things this school stands for. Whether it be through its awareness-raising initiatives, its work to give back to the Niagara community, its conscious effort to acknowledge diversity and spirit. This school always endeavors to be better and as a result, all those who interact with each other here (including myself) are made to be better, more socially-aware people, who are truly prepared to enter the real world and be consumed in service. 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

For me, it’s a tie between sports and the arts. As much as I love performing and expressing myself (through artistic means), nothing can beat the communal experience of being on a sports team. As a team, you win and lose together and playing sports is just another way that Ridleians can form relationships with those that they otherwise would not interact with as much. In the same breath, the performing arts are my passion and this school has presented me with a lot of opportunities to express myself through singing, acting, public speaking, etc. 

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favourite Ridley experience was definitely my first time at camp in 2016. To me, that whole experience was just an incredible introduction to the spirit and sense of community that this school has. At camp, I made a lot of great friendships with girls in and outside of my House. It was a judgment and care-free environment and laughter-filled experience that really set the tone for a great first year at Ridley. 

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of being in Mandeville is the girls. They are all my sisters from other misters! Every year, I meet more charismatic, diverse and intelligent girls and I get to learn a lot from them. Although we may have our challenges, I can positively say that I’ve formed some beautiful relationships with a lot of the girls in my house and I’m so appreciative of my school family.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot at this school. As I said before, I’ve been exposed to a lot of opportunities that I otherwise would not have had the luxury of experiencing. My accomplishments range from being in academics to being in co-curriculars (cadets) and in sports (volleyball and rugby). However, I think my greatest accomplishment has been learning to take risks, mainly putting myself out there despite my fear of judgment. As I’ve spent more years at Ridley, I’ve learned that judgment will always be their (just like in the real world) and the only person who can let that judgment impact me or limit me is myself. So, even though I’m not fully there, my greatest accomplishment at this school has been being unapologetically authentic in the manner I choose to present myself to the school community. 

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

There are many faculty members at this school who I admire for the different ways that they have impacted me. This includes my past and present teachers, coaches, activity leaders, Head of House, duty team members and the Assistant Head of House. Nevertheless, if I had to pick one person, it would have to be my advisor, Mrs. McNiven. She is the most giving, caring and understanding person I’ve ever met, and she does so much for the girls and I without acknowledging the gravity of her impact. She also knows how to set me straight when I need it and despite how much I may act like I hate it, I love her sarcastic wit. 

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

I’m most excited to see what goes into planning the communal events that we have at this school. I know it’ll be hard balancing academics, activities, sports and my personal sanity. Still, Prefectship is another learning experience I am more than willing to take on. I’m also really excited to give my chapel talk because I will be speaking about a topic that matters a lot to me and that (I hope) is applicable to the experiences of many others at Ridley.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Time-Management! Our schedules are packed at this school and I think that is very fitting because that’s how it is going to be when we all get jobs and/or go university. Ridley teaches you a lot about self-discipline and the importance of having routine while embracing change and acknowledging your physical and emotional capabilities. 

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

To me, being at Ridley has been about never saying “no” for selfish reasons. It’s perfectly okay to take a step back and acknowledge when you need to have some time to yourself. However, I would say that you should never let your fears of judgment of criticism limit your actions. Take risks, don’t be afraid to fail and share who you are with the members at this school because it will all be a learning experience about the world around us.  

Ridleian Published in Medical Journal

Committed to his goal of one day becoming a medical doctor, Arnav Wadhawan ’19 seized the opportunity to contribute his summer research to a peer-reviewed medical journal and presented his findings at an international medical conference.

View Online Journal co-authored by Arnav.

Grade 12 student, Arnav’s motivation to turn to the field of medicine was undoubtedly inspired by his parents, both doctors, as well as other family members who have taken on the vocation of physicians. What ignited his specific interest for research in the field of infectious diseases was his volunteer work with Dr. Rajinder Bajwa from the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, in New York. Impressed by Arnav’s proactive approach to learning and his breadth of knowledge, Dr. Bajwa, an infectious disease specialist and doctor of internal medicine, asked the teen if he’d like to assist in compiling an article on Legionellosis—a term used to describe clinical manifestations of infection caused by the Legionella bacteria, which includes Legionnaires Disease, focal non-pulmonary infections and Pontiac Fever.

Arnav jumped at the opportunity and swiftly went to work, making this journal his summer 2018 focus. Beginning in July, Arnav dove deep into research on the subject—combing through articles on “Pub Med” and even using his father’s resources as an additional tool in gathering knowledge on the disease. After nearly two months of studying, writing and editing, and with Dr. Bajwa’s stamp of approval, Arnav’s work was submitted to a number of Medical Journals alongside Dr. Bajwa’s credentials, and the waiting game began.

Once an article is received by a Medical Journal, it was reviewed by an editorial committee to assess the validity of the work, the educational value in publishing and to determine if it aligned with the topics they are circulating. Arnav and Dr. Bajwa went through the editorial committee process twice, and on the second submission they received the exciting news that their review was going to be published by Juniper Publishing.

As it was my first publication, I was extremely thrilled as I thought the journey to my dreams had begun and my hard work over the summer has brought a reward. I could not have thanked my mentors enough for their help in the process. As soon as I got the news I called my mentor and expressed my gratitude to him. This has also encouraged me to do more during my breaks so that I can contribute to the field of medicine with my research.”                                          – Arnav Wadhawan ’19

This past October, Arnav was given the opportunity to present his findings at 2018 Medical Imaging and Case Reports Conference (MICRA 2018) in Baltimore, Maryland in Dr. Bajwa’s place. The senior Ridley student once again rose to the occasion and presented a case report on the right-sided infective endocarditis. Feeling comfortable with the material, Arnav took to the stage and presented in front of the international medical community, which included representation from Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University.

Arnav is committed to furthering his medical education, and is currently a research assistant in a study with Roche Pharmaceuticals. Through this experience, he is working on yet another publication for a medical journal. While he is unsure of what his post-secondary school of choice will be, he plans to remain dedicated to becoming a doctor. “I think what I have learned from this publication,” says Arnva, “is that time is one of the most important aspects of our lives and if utilized towards our goals it will bring us one step closer to achieving them.”

10 Inspiring Alumnae to Celebrate

Driven, ambitious and passionate are a few words you may use to describe an inherently inspirational woman in your life. Today is International Women’s Day and we’d like to celebrate a few of Ridley’s alumnae who have made their mark on the world.

Georgina Black ’85

Georgina Black ’85: As the first female Chair of the Board of Governors at Ridley College, Georgina has paved the way for young women to succeed in both leadership and governance. In addition to her role at Ridley, she is a Partner at KPMG Canada and was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2016.

Michele-Elise Burnett ’86: Michele-Elise founded the Indigenous festival, Celebration of Nations, which takes place every September. In addition, during the 18th annual Women in Business Awards this past November, Michele-Elise Burnett ’85 was recognized for her commitment to helping the arts thrive in Niagara; winning the Cultural Arts Award.

Sarah Eyton ’86: As Vice President of Fund Development at Special Olympics Canada, this alumna has dedicated her career to supporting those with intellectual disabilities in realizing their dreams of competing in sport. In addition, she serves Ridley College as a member of the Board of Governors and the Advancement Committee.

Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’87: Passionate about social justice, this alumna was appointed the Honorary Consul for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016. In addition, she has served on a number of Boards, including Ridley College, Patrons of Contemporary Art in Mexico and MEXFAM. She was also a founding member of Camp Deen, which is a camp that empowers Muslim Canadians to be proud of their heritage.

Michele-Elise Burnett ’86 & Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’87

Wendy O’Brien ’88: This alumna started her own casting company in Los Angeles, Wendy O’Brien Casting, and has been the Casting Director for hit television shows such as: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchyand Prison Break.

Hilary Caters ’89: Hilary was once an entrepreneur and marketing agency owner, until she realized her path was leading her down a different direction. Now, she is a passionate life coach and motivational speaker. During the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women in October of 2018, Hilary spoke to aspiring leaders about taking control of ones’ life and the importance of seeking and uncovering both passion and purpose.

Jane Lewis ’90: This Canadian singer-songwriter has always been involved in the arts. While she began her career as an author and editor, she shifted towards music in 2009. Since then, she has honed her skills, released a number of CDs and launched both a solo career and her band, Gathering Sparks. She will be performing at our Toronto Branch event, Curating Connections, on April 2nd.

Jane Lewis ’90

Alison Loat ’94: This alumna co-founded Samara Canada, a charitable organization that works to improve political participation in Canada. In addition, she has published several notable books, is the Managing Director at FCLTGlobal, serves on both Ridley’s Board of Governors as well as Ai-Media and has been named one of WXN’s most influential women in Canada.

Jeanette Stock ’09: This alumna is paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape through Venture Out. Venture Out is an initiative launched by Jeanette and her peers in 2016, with the goal of connecting LGBTQA+ people, working in technology, with career and networking opportunities. In 2017, Venture Out held its first conference; welcoming over 450 individuals to Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and professionals, seeking careers in the tech industry.

Jeanette Stock ’09

Laura Court ’14: After a unanimous vote, former Ridley rower and current Brock Badger, Laura Court ’14 was named Brock University’s OUA Female Athlete of the Year—the first coxswain to receive this honour. With a number of gold medal wins behind her and a promising future ahead, it is no surprise that she was recognized for her grit, determination and skill.

 

TURNING ADVERSITY INTO OPPORTUNITY

How one Ridleian overcame persecution and earned a full university scholarship to support his ambition to transform our globe.

It was nightfall when sixteen-year-old Asmatullah (Asmat) arrived at the Vancouver border in summer of 2017. He had just undertaken a solo journey from California to reach the Canadian land crossing after learning that the United States would no longer have him as a student. Thousands of miles from his home in Afghanistan and unable to return to his family, Asmat made the bold decision to seek refugee status and hope for a better future in the ‘Great White North’.

The original plan to study in North America had begun as an exciting prospect for Asmat. As a uniquely remarkable student, he accepted a scholarship to a military academy in California for his Grade 10 year. However, when his funding and student visa were revoked, he found himself in limbo between a country where he was no longer welcomed and a home nation that would suspect him a conspirator.

“If I hadn’t come to Canada and I hadn’t crossed the border that night, I would have returned back to Afghanistan and who knows if I’d be alive now,” reflects Asmat on what might have happened if things hadn’t gone to plan. Soon after arriving to Canada, he was connected with social services and provided with housing in Ontario, but as a minor he struggled to fulfill his basic needs without a legal guardian; Once walking himself to a public high school in East York, Toronto where he unsuccessfully attempted to enroll.

Enter Cory Miller, Guidance and University Counsellor at Branksome Hall (an all-girls CAIS independent school), who upon learning of the displaced teen’s story felt compelled to act. “Asmat and I first met on a sunny day at the Toronto waterfront and I took him to a Blue Jays game,” Miller recalls about their first encounter. “From our initial conversations and [seeing] his academic records, it was clear that he was very keen to continue his education,” adds the woman who became Asmat’s legal guardian only weeks after setting eyes on him. “It was an opportunity to help someone who clearly has so much potential, it felt like a very easy decision to make. Helping a Muslim refugee in this day and age of growing xenophobia felt like my small gesture of social justice.”

Asmat and Cory meeting for the first time at a Toronto Blue Jays home game.

Partnering with Asmat and his parents back in Afghanistan, Cory swiftly reached out to her colleagues at fellow independent schools to see if anyone would be willing to welcome an additional boarder on short notice. Cory knew the school would need to be able to support Asmat’s talents and ambitions so one of her initial calls was to Julie Cameron, Director of Admissions at Ridley College who says she clearly recalls being profoundly moved by Asmat’s story because it harkened back to Ridley’s deep service-oriented mentality. “Asmat is an example of why we do what we do as educators,” Julie underscores. With the support of Headmaster Kidd, Asmat was soon accepted to Ridley College as a late addition to Dean’s House residence.

Prefect-led Pep Rally on Opening Day 2018

In less than a full academic year, Asmat began to soar. He enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, learned his fifth language, became an active member of Cadet Corps leadership, went on a service trip to Malawi, joined clubs committed to human rights, took up rowing as well as Model U.N. and Debating. It’s no wonder then that his peers voted him in as Prefect for the 2018-19 academic year.

“Coming to Ridley…everything exceeded my expectations; from the diversity in the community to studying with such an amazing and smart cohort and from the volume of opportunities available to academic intensity at the school especially with the IB programme,” he said enthusiastically about his first year at Ridley. “I felt overwhelmed in the beginning, but with support that I got from the faculty, staff and my friends, I was able to take on every challenge, thrive and have fun.”

On a promising trajectory already and working with Ridley’s University and Guidance Counsellor, Michael Maki, post-secondary institutions began to take notice of Asmat’s undeniable potential. In mid-February 2019 one university in particular stepped up to make this new Canadian’s dreams come true. While on what he believed was a Huron University campus tour and interview with its President, Dr. Barry Craig, Asmat was surprised with acceptance and a full, four-year undergraduate scholarship—the largest in the school’s history.

Hear from Asmat about his experience at Ridley and excitement for Huron University.

Beaming even days following the news and in his consistently humble way, Asmat reports that he has decided to pursue a double-major, combining Leadership, Governance and Ethics with Economics. He also plans to study photography while obtaining a business certificate in from Harvard University. “I want to get into politics [and] I’m committed to transforming our globe because I believe in equity and equity of opportunity for everyone and currently that does not exist…it’s just going to open the door for much development in this world,” the soon-to-be Ridley graduate explains. He elaborates that his intended studies are all to support his vision of one day working with the United Nations as a part of the security council or on peace-keeping missions oversees. “I think Asmat definitely has the makings of a statesman, he cares about mankind and improving circumstances for all of humanity. He has the intellectual and social skills to plan strategically, negotiate policy, and hopefully peace in the Middle East. He articulates that aspiration regularly,” Cory reinforces.

“What’s most inspiring about Asmat is not just his list of accomplishments and achievements, but also his positive outlook on life in spite of the challenges he has faced on his journey,” says Headmaster Ed Kidd, adding, “He should be an example of resilience and perseverance to us all.  As a community we are so proud of him and I am confident he will continue to flourish (and inspire others to flourish) at Huron.”

Headmaster Kidd and Julie Cameron welcoming Asmat to Ridley College.

Asmat isn’t shy in expressing his gratitude to Ridley College, Huron University (and of course, Cory) for providing him with educational opportunities he wouldn’t otherwise had. “For me Ridley is far more than just a place where I go to school. Ridley is an experience. Apart from the academic skills and knowledge that I have acquired at Ridley, my experience at Ridley has helped me grow spiritually and find my real self in many different ways. Ridley has taught me how to handle my emotions and fight till the end, until I succeed.”

“If you are looking for somewhere to flourish and grow Ridley is the right place for you.” – Asmat ’19

The Gross National Happiness of Bhutan: A Case Study

Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas on the ancient Silk Road between Tibet, India and Southeast Asia, Bhutan is a small country with a distinct national identity. Intrepidly focused on the well-being of its citizens, instead of measuring gross domestic product to gage national progress, they measure gross national happiness.

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a philosophy that steers the government of Bhutan and was first coined by the fourth King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, in 1972—a concept that implies that “sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to the aspects of well-being.” Since then, the idea of GNH has influenced Bhutan’s economic and social policy, and most recently has become engrained in the school system through positive education.

The leading authority in Positive Psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman, identified Bhutan as the most enabling environment to promote well-being as a whole nation. Because of this distinction, Seligman and his team approached Bhutan’s government to launch a pilot programme: Education for Gross National Happiness, which focuses on integrating positive psychology tactics into the school curriculum. Bhutan’s government was eager to participate and adopt positive education into its larger community.

Seligman and his team began their mission by identifying what the most relevant skills were for determining happiness within the Bhutanese culture and how these could be transformed into life skills.

The following ten life skills were identified:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Decision making
  4. Communication
  5. Creative thinking
  6. Empathy
  7. Problem solving
  8. Interpersonal relationships
  9. Resilience
  10. Self-awareness

From this, 18 secondary schools were randomly assigned to receive the new GNH curriculum. Prior to implementing the curriculum, baseline measurements (based on key indicators from the 10 life skills) determining the well-being in every student, teacher and staff member at each of these schools were completed. During the next 15 months, the GNH curriculum was taught with much seriousness, having one period solely dedicated to Life Skills and Positive Education.

After the programme’s completion, follow-up tests were completed that indicated a significant increase in participant well-being—an outcome Seligman and his team had predicted. What wasn’t expected, however, was that there was an increase in standardized test scores, better physical health and decreased absenteeism. As a whole, there was a higher satisfaction with the entire school experience from both students and faculty.

What this points to is that the curriculum established a ‘well-being ecosystem’—a community of people confidently interacting with one another through positive activities and communication. Since these results, Bhutan has rolled out the programme on a national level.

Gross National Happiness values and principles have become deeply embedded into the consciousness of the youth in Bhutan through this holistic approach to student development, led by principals and teachers as key change agents.

For more than five years, Ridley has been a leader in positive education and focused on creating a positive ecosystem for students and employees alike. In 2012, the school developed a unique strategic vision to ‘inspire flourishing lives’, which calls upon Dr. Martin Seligman’s PERMA model and the S.E.A.R.C.H. framework of Dr. Lea Waters’ Visible Wellbeing Programme. Our two full-time social emotional counsellors continually partner with internal change agents to ensure our community is adopting thoughtful strategies.

 

Shailynn Snow ’19 Named to Team Canada Roster

It is with great excitement that we announce Shailynn Snow ’19 has been named to Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 hockey team. The 23-player roster will travel to Obihiro, Japan this coming January to compete at the 2019 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.

Hailing from Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, the 18-year forward has spent the past three seasons playing for Ridley College’s Prep Girls hockey team, which competes in the Junior Women’s Hockey League (JWHL) under Head Coach, Amanda Wark.

“Shailynn is one of the most elite student-athletes in our country, which is a result of her hard work and desire to be the best she can possibly be. Shay has the ability to single-handedly change the outcome of any game she is in. She is a great leader both on and off the ice and has gained the respect of her teammates and opponents alike. Making Team Canada is a huge honour for her, and one that she has worked for every day. To see this come true for her is rewarding for everyone involved.” – Amanda Wark, Head Coach

This is the second time in her career that Snow will proudly wear the maple leaf as she also appeared in two of three showcase games played between the National Women’s Under-18 Team and the United States Under-18 squad this past summer.

“My time spent at Ridley has not only helped me develop as a player, but also a person. The support I have received during my time here has encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I am very grateful for the opportunity to represent my country and look forward to joining my new teammates in late December.” – Shailynn Snow ‘19

Upon graduation from Ridley College this spring, Shailynn will continue her academic and athletic endeavors on a full scholarship to St. Lawrence University to compete in the NCAA.

Canada will open the 2019 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship against Sweden on January 5th at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT. The schedule also has Canada matching up against the United States and Russia to round out the preliminary round on January 7th and 8th, respectively. The gold medal game is set to take place at 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT on Sunday, January 13th.

Read more about Shailynn in The Western Star.

About Ridley College:
Since 1889, Ridley College has provided enriching educational experiences focused on the arts, academics, service and athletics. With 700 students from 63 countries, Ridley is a truly international, coeducational, day and boarding school. In recent years, the school has become the Canadian leader in positive education. The Lower School offers JK to Grade 8 classes, while its Upper School consists of Grade 9-12.  Ridley is an International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum school, with graduates who attend top universities and colleges around the globe.

News & Stories from Campus