Earlier today, I had the opportunity and the honour to speak at my high school’s annual Achievement Assembly as the Keynote Speaker. I was asked to speak about my involvement in high school and the importance of participating in a wide variety of things. I have decided to share part of my speech with all of you as I feel it really highlights what Mad and I are trying to achieve with bronze & gold- that a big part of being 20-something is about finding our way.
A large portion of my speech was centered around the word consilience. Recently, one of my closest friends from my undergraduate degree at Plattsburgh State, someone who I can always count on for the best advice and encouragement, introduced me to the term. We were having a Facetime catch up and I was sharing my latest realizations and goals with him. When I shared that I had finally determined the career I wanted to pursue and that it had been there all along, he suggested that it was an example of consilience. In history and science, the term consilience refers to the principle that evidence from unrelated sources can “converge” to strong conclusions.
This is the second half of my speech from this morning, inspired by the one and only Tobiloba Oni:
Consilience means that when a lot of different things that aren’t necessarily related come together, they can lead to a conclusion or success. Participate, commit, follow-through, consilience. I would like you to think of this in terms of our lives and how being involved in a variety of seemingly unrelated things can lead to a positive experience. My story begins at one of the most challenging times of my hockey career.
In grade 11 I wanted to quit playing hockey, I had started skating when I was 2, playing when I was 4. Hockey was my favourite sport, but the joy of playing had been stolen from me. However, I’m sure like with your families, in mine, if you start something, you finish it. I was so relieved when the season finally ended, the misery was over, I could get on with enjoying life again. But during that summer I was asked to play for another team, the Ontario Hockey Academy. This led to an improbable meeting with my college coach and an incredible four year career playing for Plattsburgh State. During my senior year at Plattsburgh, I decided to complete an honours research project which led to an NCAA academic grant for my Masters degree and further research grants at McGill. I was rewarded, and well rewarded all because I was involved with a team.
However, new challenge, when I first moved to Montreal for my Masters, it was very uncomfortable: new city, new school, new program, no friends, and no hockey. Needless to say my first month in Montreal was pretty miserable. I decided to join an intramural hockey team at McGill even though I knew no one on the team, and suddenly everything changed. A girl on my team worked for McGill Athletics and was able to introduce me to various people in the department. Over the next two years, I worked throughout the McGill Athletics and Recreation department where I finally identified the career I want to pursue. I know my parents wish I would have realized my passion for sports management 7 years ago when I was the Minister of Athletics at North Dundas… sorry mom and dad… but it’s all about the journey right??
That’s why I want you to remember consilience. My unrelated sources were my love for sports and strengths in administration and coordinating which came together to form my career goal of sports management, something I had never thought about, and yet are directly linked to participating and being involved. Take advantage of any opportunity to get involved, you never know what path it may lead you down. And while you’re on that path, do something about it, now that you’re participating step up, lead, make it better for the students coming behind you. It’s not always easy to do the right thing, to do that little extra, to do a little more, but that’s what an achievement is, that’s what it takes to achieve something. Are you striving to achieve?
In conclusion, the contacts you make, the contributions you make to the group, the lessons you learn from being part of those groups, and the lifelong friends you make are irreplaceable. This is true for success in high school, college or the workplace. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having outside interests in life, how being involved leads to a balanced life and high school is when you can jump start this balance. Take advantage of the opportunities you have at North Dundas.
When you leave this room for your next class, will it be recorded that you were present, as having attended, or will you be an active participant in the life of this school and our community. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”.
I’m still working on finding my way but the journey just keeps getting more and more fun!
Lots of love,