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Class of 2021 Valedictorians

Congratulations Class of 2021 Valedictorians

Meet Terry McGinn, Heather Flipsen, and Melanie Lilly.

Terry McGinn
Valedictorian
Terry McGinn
Kingston, Advertising & Marketing Communications
  • What does being class Valedictorian mean to you?

It is humbling and an honour to be named valedictorian for the Kingston campus. I always considered myself to be a lifelong learner, and so when I decided, after a decade-plus-long break from formal education, to return to college I knew I was putting that self-identity to the test.

  • What has been the greatest challenge you overcame while being a student at SLC?

After being away from formal education for a long time, I wasn’t sure my learning and studying skills would be enough to be able to succeed at SLC. But with some hard with and the support of faculty and peers I was able to develop and grow good habits.

  • What are you looking forward to most after graduating?

I am looking forward to the next chapter of my St. Lawrence College experience. I am returning in the fall to take the User Experience Design graduate certificate program, which I think will help amplify the skills I learned in the Advertising and Marketing Communication program. I am also the 2021/2022 president of the Kingston Student Association, so that gives me the opportunity to continue to work for and represent the student body on the Kingston campus for another year. I am looking forward to meeting the new students starting their SLC experience in the fall and I am looking forward to getting back and seeing the students who are returning after a year of remote learning.

  • What words of inspiration do you want to share with your fellow graduates?

Be proud of your story. What you have learned, experienced, and overcome during your time at St. Lawrence College all add to your story as you move out into the world. Share what you’ve learned and lived with others, and take time to listen and be part of their story, too

  • What will be your fondest memory of your time at SLC?

The first basketball game played in the new gym was the first basketball game I’d seen live. Students from all three years of the AMC program attended the game where we watched together, cheered together, and laughed together. I learned that day what belonging means at SLC.

Melanie Elizabeth Lilly
Valedictorian
Melanie Elizabeth Lilly
Brockville, Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • What does being class Valedictorian mean to you?

To represent the Brockville class of 2021 is an incredible honour. Our graduation day is meant to be such a special celebration of our accomplishments over the years here at SLC, and in my speech I hope to speak to that level of accomplishment and pride each student should embody. Whether I knew students personally or not, I hope that everyone can take something away from my speech. 

  • What has been the greatest challenge you overcame while being a student at SLC?

One of the greatest challenges for me while at SLC would have been balancing academics with my personal life. For everyone, whether it's family life, the pandemic, or other issues, we have all had to make sacrifices in our personal life for our academics, and vice versa. However, I very quickly learned the importance of balancing these, as burnout among students is extremely prevalent. I would allow myself to take time to spend with friends and family, participate in self-care, and enjoy my time off when I could. On the contrary, I would put 110% of my focus into my studies when I needed to, which meant missing out on other things. After all, school may be one of the most important years of our life and we treat it as a full-time job, but we still have to take care of ourselves and live our lives.

  • What are you looking forward to most after graduating?

Following graduation, I look forward to pursuing my dream in nursing here at the Brockville General Hospital. Like many fellow graduates, whether in nursing or not, SLC prepares us for the real world and often, our dream careers! Although the idea of not having to study all the time is quite appealing, I believe SLC prepares to be life-long learners who are always ready for a challenge and growth.

  •  What words of inspiration do you want to share with your fellow graduates?

Many of us are probably very excited to get started on our lives and careers, and others may feel more anxious to enter this new part of our lives. Each of our paths are now going in very different directions. If there is one thing to remember about our time here at SLC, it's how amazing it was that each of our paths had this opportunity to cross. We have made friends and memories, gained knowledge and wisdom, and we can cherish these forever. Whether you're excited, anxious, or both, hold on to these memories and use them as stepping stones for the rest of your path and journey. 

  •  What will be your fondest memory of your time at SLC?

My fondest memory of SLC will be orientation days! I still remember my own orientation day four years ago, and the others that I have attended to help! These days are always filled with crazy activities where you have the chance to meet your classmates for the first time, other students, as well as faculty. The energy you can feel at orientation is so exciting, new, and full of opportunity. This may be the first time students are outside of their hometown, maybe the first time students are making new friends, and regardless of where everyone comes from, we all get to spend a day together having the most fun!

Heather Flipsen
Valedictorian
Heather Flipsen
Cornwall, General Arts and Science
  • What does being class Valedictorian mean to you?

Being chosen as the Valedictorian for the Class of 2021 is an honour I have difficulty putting into words. I firmly believe that the students graduating this year are among the best, especially after successfully completing the challenging year we had due to COVID-19. I think the role of Valedictorian means you are the spokesperson for the accomplishments of the class, and it is your duty to represent them for the amazing group of individuals they are.

There are many graduates I know who would qualify for the position of valedictorian, and I’m positive many graduates I don’t know qualify as well. Being surrounded by eligible people, I am amazed to have been chosen. I only hope that the Class of 2021, are proud to have me as their Valedictorian. I will represent them to the best of my ability, because they deserve nothing less.

  • What has been the greatest challenge you overcame while being a student at SLC?

Just like any student, I had some unique challenges to face and overcome while attending SLC. It might not seem like a challenge at all to some people, but my greatest challenge was finding an equal balance of work and leisure.

I am a perfectionist, almost to a fault. I had to learn how to make time for breaks and not spend all my time agonizing over my work, deadlines, and extracurriculars.

  • What are you looking forward to most after graduating?

I am excited to start working full time, traveling, meeting new people, and having new experiences.

I think the most exciting thing about my future are the endless possibilities. There are a lot of things I want to do and I am looking forward to seeing where life will take me from this point. 

  • What words of inspiration do you want to share with your fellow graduates?

My fellow graduates have proven themselves to be dedicated, and motivated problem solvers. They have overcome obstacles that college students have never seen before and have set examples for futures students to live up to. In other words, they need no inspirational quote from me.

All of that being said, I would like to say one thing; if they can make it through all the challenges COVID-19 has posed over the last year, then there is not much life can throw at them they don’t have the ability to handle!

  • What will be your fondest memory of your time at SLC?

When I reflect on my time at SLC, my fondest memory will be of the friendships I made with my classmates and professors. One of the things that drew me to SLC was the friendliness of everybody on campus. I will especially remember the study sessions with friends, and the occasional friendly banter between professors and students in class.