VWS: What did you do for work & education after graduating from VWS?
GH: After graduating from Waldorf, I went to Capilano College and completed two years of undergraduate courses, mainly in Science. I then transferred to UBC and completed a Bachelor of Science; my major was Biochemistry. For work, I was hired at Children’s Hospital in the CFRI (Child and Family Research Institute) as a Graduate Research Assistant: I worked on Cystic Fibrosis and the superbugs that affect CF patients. I then transferred to the CMMT (Center for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics), where I was hired as a Histology Technician. The project was a drug trial for an experimental procedure to help Huntington’s patients.
VWS: What kind of work/study are you involved in now?
GH: I have now been hired by Agri-Canada as a Master’s student at the University of Saskatchewan. I am working towards my Master’s in Veterinary Biomedical Science. My research project works on the cryopreservation and transplantation of ovary and testicular tissue between poultry breeds, with the hope that we can get donor gonads to produce offspring from the original breed. I hope one day to bring this work back to Vancouver and work on rare and endangered avian species as currently, we have no technology for cryopreservation of egg-laying species.
VWS: What do you think are your greatest successes in life?
GH: Graduating with my Master’s from University was big for me as being a proud dyslexic was a struggle. I can remember my remedial teacher in England saying I was “retarded” and would never amount to anything …. well, I can say crossing that stage at UBC felt pretty good! I also feel like when I die, I don’t really care if I have accomplished anything personally, but I want to make sure that I leave the planet better than how I got it. I genuinely feel that my research now has the potential to save avian species from extinction, and to me, that would make my life a success.
VWS: How did Waldorf education affect your life & career choice?
GH: I think Waldorf education is really good …. but I feel like we were a little light in the Science and Math departments. However, I think that fact actually drove me towards this subject. I left Waldorf School wanting more Science and very eager to learn more. English, on the other hand, I had quite enough of (haha)! It taught me how to be a human being and be compassionate of others. This fact can make you feel quite alienated when you head back into the mainstream, which wants to churn out workers and not young adults.
VWS: What are your fondest memories of VWS?
GH: Art class, my Grade Twelve Project on quantum physics, and of course, going to Costa Rica for our grade 12 trip. I didn’t feel like I belonged in my class until that trip, and now I feel like I am quite a strong piece. For anyone who doesn’t feel like they belong, I can tell you that in the end, it gets really good because you are so unique, don’t give up and don’t get down on yourself.
Editor’s Note: Since 2006, the VWS High School mathematics and science curriculum have undergone many positive changes, including offering post-secondary pre-requisite courses, splitting and streaming mathematics courses by level, and investing in teacher education. In addition, since 2008, VWS graduates receive the BC Dogwood diploma and the VWS Graduation Certificate.
Interview by Ronaye Ireland, for Development September 2013