5Q with 2016 Valedictorian Jill Clairo

10 May 2016

Honours psychology student Jill Clairo has been selected by her peers as the 2016 valedictorian. She will address Convocation on behalf of her classmates on May 16, 2016.

2016ValedictorianJillClairo1. Why Mount Allison?

I’m from Calgary and always knew I wanted to go far away for school. When I took some time off after high school, I visited my sister who was studying at Acadia. I immediately fell in love with the Maritimes and started looking into schools here. Ultimately, I was drawn to the small class size at Mount Allison and the small town experience of living in Sackville, and both have been absolutely incredible and a big part of why I have loved my university experience so much.

2. Why psychology?

I’ve always been fascinated by people, and so I intended to study sociology and anthropology, but took an introductory psychology course once I arrived at Mount A and became fascinated with the mind and how it affects human behaviour. I also love that in psychology you get to study the science of human thought and action. I completed my honours thesis this year with Dr. Louise Wasylkiw, looking at barriers men face when seeking help for mental health problems. The study looked into the masculine gender role and how it plays into men’s lives, which was fascinating, because I got to incorporate some knowledge from sociology but apply it to a psychological topic.

3. How does it feel to be selected as valedictorian by your graduating class?

I was blown away when I heard the news! I don’t think I said anything for about 15 minutes after I found out. It’s such an honour to be selected by the people you love and see every day. I am really humbled that I get to represent our graduating class at convocation and am just hoping that I can do a good job of speaking on behalf of everyone.

4. What were you involved with at Mount Allison and in the Sackville community?

I was on the residence executive for Bigelow and volunteered with Orientation week and SMILE for three years. This past year, I worked with the MASU as their promotions manager, helping with graphic design and photography. It was a such a great learning experience!

Academically, I was a TA in psychology and Spanish and also worked as a Purdy Crawford Teaching Intern with Dr. Stephen Claxton-Oldfield for his Social Psychology class, which was one of my favourite classes. Through this internship, I helped create new course material and even had the opportunity to present a guest lecture.

5. Any sneak peeks for this year's valedictory address?

I don’t want to say too much, but I am hoping to really capture the essence of my classmates and our experiences at Mount Allison, with a little bit of humour. There are going to be a lot of fantastic speakers at Convocation giving very inspiring speeches, but I am really the only one speaking from the current graduate perspective, so I see it as my job to represent the students – both our struggles and the things we have learned through them.

Bonus questions:

Favourite Mount A moment?

There are so many! The moments that I think I will always reflect on fondly, though, are the long hours I spend with friends in Jennings Hall. It’s incredible to see the friendships that can be forged while sharing food and procrastinating, and I like to think that a lot of my lifelong friendships were built there.

What's next after Mount A?

I’m going to be travelling in Europe this summer and then moving to Vancouver to take my degree in Montessori teaching. It is a one-year, internationally-recognized program so I’ll really be able to teach in the Montessori style anywhere. I’m thinking about going to South America, as I’ve studied a lot of Spanish and am interested in that region, but I guess time will tell where I end up.


Hear more from Jill at mtalive.ca


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