Introducing Shaun Donnelly ’17 – a Prefect who learned the value of spontaneity and risk-taking during her time at Ridley. Read how she grew and discovered who she is by stepping out of her comfort zone.
Why did you choose Ridley?
Three of my older siblings attended Ridley before me, which made me very aware of the incredible range of opportunities, programmes, and facilities that would be available to me. This is the main reason why I chose to enroll; though the sunny and college-like atmosphere of the campus was also very appealing.
Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I did have some sense going into Grade 9 (my first year at Ridley) that it would be quite the challenge and a significant step-up from elementary school, but I figured I would eventually adapt to the extra demands. I didn’t feel prepared, but I felt prepared to be unprepared.
Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
My favourite teacher is passionate, committed, patient, enthusiastic, wise, entertaining, and treats teaching as a vocation. To be completely honest, I really can’t pick one because they’re all like that.
What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
The greatest challenge I have faced thus far at Ridley was the transition from Grade 10 to full International Baccalaureate (IB). Going into Grade 11 (year one of IB) I knew that balancing the added demands of IB, such as an even more rigorous curriculum, night classes, and the extended essay – along with being a member of the rowing team – would be a lot to manage. This schedule was indeed very overwhelming at the start, but the skills and knowledge that I acquired by working through this challenge made it more than worth it.
What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
My greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley has been my development into the person I am today. My personality going into Grade 9 was very simple; I was very shy and obsessed with perfection… The prospect of me ever even applying for prefectship seemed absolutely absurd in my mind at the time. Throughout the past three years, I have been forced outside of my comfort zone and humbled by the increased difficulty of my classes and athletic pursuits. I tried a number of new things, such as debate team, Mandarin class, and meditation, and discovered new passions (computer programming and rowing). These experiences taught me the value of spontaneity and risk-taking. Even if your leap of faith turns out to be a total failure, you’ll certainly learn something or at least have some fun trying.
What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
My absolute favourite Ridley experience has been rowing. I joined the rowing team in Grade 10, and despite all of the sore muscles and blisters, it has been incredibly fun. The rowing team is like one big, crazy family; through training together, sometimes between three and four hours a day, we have become so close. Highlights of my Ridley rowing experience have been travelling to Miami for our annual March break training camp and to Philadelphia to race in the Stotesbury Cup Regatta – the world’s largest high school regatta.
What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
My favourite part of Ridley life is the diversity. Having friends from all over the world is truly fascinating and enlightening. In a world riddled with conflicts and prejudice surrounding cultural and racial differences, it’s refreshing to see such a diverse population living together in this little community, becoming as close as family.
What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
I am most excited to use this position of influence to serve as a role model for younger students and show them the value of taking advantage of all that Ridley has to offer. Of course, Prefects do get to do a few especially fun things. Of these, I was most excited to light the fire and lead the cheering at Snake Dance.
How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Ridley has molded me into a person who I hope could survive quite well under the wrath of the “real world”, and I attribute this development to the ongoing challenge that is the rigorous Ridley schedule and its high-functioning environment. I was forced to break out of my shyness, taught the value of professionalism, and encouraged to develop a certain boldness, that I see serving me well in all kinds of situations. I learned the importance of preparedness, but also came to understand the role that feeling and seeming confident plays in success, even in times when one does not feel completely prepared.
What are your plans after graduation?
Following graduation next year, I want to study computer science and economics. I hope to then go on to work at and eventually manage a computer software company. In terms of extracurricular activities, I hope to be a member of my new university’s lightweight women’s rowing team and continue to pursue my passion for improving the well-being of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
The simple advice that I would give to anybody thinking of coming to Ridley is to go for it; and once you’re here, you have to maintain that “go for it” attitude. Ridley has so much to offer, but you will only get out of it what you put into it. This being said, be sure not to spread yourself too thin by committing to too many different things, which can be very tempting in such a busy place.