Guest blog by Emma Smith, soon to graduate
Emma’s blog has been featured by Skate Canada!
I am not an outstanding student and do not plan on writing an academic thesis. My GPA is average and I have taken classes from many disciplines.
I started at The Mount in 2006, after quitting competitive figure skating, in the pursuit of adulthood. I failed, dropped out, came back on academic probation, and managed to repeat this cycle one more time before I found my feet. I remember making a small group of friends in the English and History community, some who had been through the same trials and tribulations of life as myself.
Over the past two years I have been taking courses non-stop, powering through every single semester to graduate in May of 2015. I set a goal, to claim my BA in English and History, to make a change in my education, to love myself and the things I do. Nothing would keep me from my achievement. At the same time I revived my insatiable need to be a part of the figure-skating community. I started along the road to become a coach – a career coach. Training towards a mentorship and eventually, developing our future mentors and athletes, seems to be my path. Still, I felt like I was missing something, and finding that hidden puzzle piece is a testament to my peers, professors and my mentors.
I decided I wanted to write my own kind of thesis.
People ask me, “What are you going to do with your English degree?” I always say: “Apply it to my life, especially my career.”
When I tell them that I am a figure skating coach, they tend to be a bit perplexed: “How do those things have anything to do with each other?”
It may not be obvious to them, but the creativity of literature connects me to my own creativity on ice. I learn about William Morris’ decoration and it sparks an idea, a pattern, a theme, a dress; I hear the rhythm and meter of poetry in a 4/4 time signature and it reminds me of the blues dance on ice. I can connect the music in writing and perform it lyrically, or choreograph a lyrical piece. The genres in literature build the bones of my work on ice. Form, motif, character and theme fill in the structure to produce a whole sum of its parts. For each individual I teach, I create an original piece of art work, shaped and moulded by my ideas and knowledge. They perform my ideas for an audience; my work is put out there for evaluation and critique. So, by saying that I do not plan on writing a thesis and going on with my English studies, only means that I am not doing it through the university, but through my career. Everyday I am contributing to the research of life, to mastering the discourse and genres of the world of figure skating.
I attribute some of my success to the fact that the friends I made here always helped me feel I was a part of something, that my professors taught me to be critical and confident, and that the work showed me how to have empathy for everyone. Most of all, however, the English department NEVER gave up on me. I value my BA in English because it has taught me never to stop learning in every area of life, to be a student first, and (as cliched as this might sound) the sky is the limit. You never know who will remember your face, heart, or hard work. So I raise my glass to the Class of 2015, we did it! And I did it.
Thank you to The Mount and the English Department, you will never really know how much respect and love I have for you!
Emma Smith, Class of 2015 BA, English and History