Meet Class of 2024 Valedictorian Ellie Smallwood 

03 May 2024
Honours biochemistry graduate from Miramichi, NB selected as Valedictorian for graduating class 

What’s next after Mount A?

With the tremendous support of my family and friends, I will be attending medical school at Trinity College in Dublin with the hopes of returning to the East Coast as a family physician after my five-year program.

What does it mean to you to be named Valedictorian?

Mount Allison means more to me than I could have ever imagined coming into my first year. My friends, professors, lab instructors, and anyone else that I have run into on the streets of Sackville have truly changed my life for the better and have shaped me into the person that I am today. The honour of being chosen as Valedictorian means that I get to say goodbye to this place and these people one last time and let everyone know how much of a positive impact they have had on my time here. I’m grateful for the chance to vocalize how proud I am of my fellow graduates and to express the lasting impact that they have had on me. 
What is one message you want to convey in your speech to the Class of 2024?

I want to convey that every person’s experience at Mount Allison is different. Just because I have loved every second here does not mean that everyone has and that’s okay. We have all taken a different path to get to this moment and none is less valid than the other. Meeting different people with different stories is what makes this school so special and if I could go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing because every person I met and every experience I had is what has led me to this moment.  
How did you choose your area of study?

Medical school has always been my goal and the interdisciplinary field of biochemistry felt like the best way to get me there. On top of specialized biochemistry classes, I took many chemistry and biology courses, which allowed me to get two extra minors. While I love science, I knew that I would miss the literature and writing that came with taking arts courses, so I opted for an additional English minor, which has allowed me to meet more people and has given me a well-rounded education overall. When I began my upper-year lab courses, I knew that I wanted to pursue an honours thesis in my field and I was lucky enough to work with Dr. Tyson MacCormack studying the effects of taurine in brook trout. 
What have you been involved with outside of the classroom at Mount Allison?

Apart from academics, I was a teaching assistant for chemistry and biochemistry labs, as well as for the START program for first-year students. I played on the Mount Allison club field hockey team, serving as co-president in my fourth year. I was vice-president of Windsor Hall in my second year and I was an orientation crew leader during my last two years. Outside of Mount Allison, I volunteer at the Sackville Memorial Hospital, sitting with patients and offering company. 
One stand-out Mount A memory?

During exam season at the end of my first year, the weather was finally warming up and everyone was feeling the weight of exams. A small group of my close friends decided to play Spikeball in the north side quad as a study break. We were dressed in shorts for the first time that semester and we brought a speaker outside to play our favorite music. Before long, what was our few close friends playing Spikeball turned into masses of people flowing out from every northside residence to hangout and enjoy the sun in the quad. I met new people that day and strengthened previous friendships and overall I feel like it epitomizes my time at this school. 
One piece of advice you would give to your first-year self?

Say yes. The schoolwork will get done and the laundry will be folded, but you will never be this young again in a small university town surrounded by your people. School is the reason that we are here and it’s so important to put your best foot forward and take pride in the work that you do, but it’s also important to make the most of the time that you have here. Talk to that person sitting alone in meal hall, watch that movie with your friends, sign up for that club, soak in every second that you have here because it truly does go by in the blink of an eye. 

Full Convocation schedule is available at mta.ca/convocation

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