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‘You can always count on yourself to get through challenges’

Faculty of Arts and Science valedictorians reflect on what they’ve learned within and beyond the classroom
August 29, 2022

Nicholas Bailey and Kelly Burchell-Reyes

Students from the Faculty of Arts and Science are finally taking the stage on August 29th during Concordia's summer convocation ceremonies. The celebration brings together graduates whose convocation ceremonies were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among them are two students who made a mark within their faculty and among their peers. Valedictorians Kelly Burchell-Reyes and Nicholas Bailey share their takeaways and memorable moments from life at Concordia.

Kelly Burchell-Reyes smiling broadly with stone beach and water in the background

Kelly Burchell-Reyes

BSc '20
Honours, Chemistry and Multidisciplinary Studies
Science College

Three keys to a good education

  • Surrounding yourself with people you admire and who bring out the best in you
  • Exploring opportunities that come your way, even if they seem out of reach
  • Good quality sleep and self care

Two lessons you learned at Concordia

  • Kindness, determination, and creativity will take you far
  • Asking for help is part of growing

What does it mean for you to celebrate this milestone moment in person?
For the 2020 and 2021 grads, we’re not just celebrating our time at Concordia; it’s also about what we’ve accomplished since classes ended for us. It’s a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come in all aspects of our lives and to set goals for ourselves.

Do you have a memory to share from your Concordia experience? 
I met some really great friends and shared so many laughs. We had an epic prank war in our Science College office space. One summer, a couple of fellow research lab interns and I made a mock company, complete with a logo and great business model as an imaginary side hustle for the summer. One time, my lab partner accidentally spilled our beautiful final product that we had labored over for the entire lab session, and he just scooped it back up citing the "five second rule".

What's next for you?
I'm working on my PhD in Organofluorine chemistry. I'll see where life takes me after this. I think that the most enjoyable aspects of life happen when you least expect them.

Nicholas Bailey smiles with closed mouth in front of brick wall and wears gray collarless button-up shirt

Nicholas Bailey

BA '21
Honours, Liberal Arts
Liberal Arts College

Three keys to a good education

  • Learn how to learn from others. Arrogance in your own sense of knowledge will not serve you; there’s always more to be learned
  • Learning does not occur in a vacuum. Share your thoughts and your interests
  • Be kind to yourself, because you can always count on yourself to get through challenges

Two lessons you learned at Concordia

  • Being adaptable is the best way of achieving results
  • Never deprive yourself of contact with people for work

What does it mean for you to celebrate this milestone moment in person?
For many of us who were students during the pandemic, sharing this ceremony provides a moment for reflection on our time as students at Concordia, but also on the realities that we have been living within the year or two since our studies ended.

Do you have a favorite memory to share from your Concordia experience?
One of my most treasured memories involves being a member of the Liberal Arts College Theatre Society. Even as a small, little known, and often underfunded community effort, it routinely produces fantastic theatrical performances. I adored the people I met and worked with as a member. The directors – fellow students – are still among the most exceptional people I’ve met.

What’s next for you?
Get busy living, keep learning, pursue my interests and experience more of this world while seeking to make a positive influence.

Find out about Concordia’s summer 2022 convocation ceremonies.

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