Alum Corner with Silvia Formankova

Silvia Formankova took a year off after high school to work and explore career options. Realizing her passion for healthcare and science, she pursued a diploma in Human Kinetics at Capilano University and later completed a Bachelor of Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia. After further exploration and work experience, she found her calling in Prosthetics & Orthotics and pursued a postgraduate program at BCIT. Currently, she lives in Germany, working in the clinical evidence department of a P&O company while completing her master’s in Rehabilitation Science. Silvia appreciates how Waldorf education nurtured her creativity and critical thinking skills, shaping her career path positively.

VWS: What did you do for work & education post Vancouver Waldorf School?
SF: I took a year off after finishing high school to work, save up some money, and decide what I wanted to do with my life. During this year, I realized that health and well-being were very important to me and that I found all things related to science very interesting. This led me to enroll in the Human Kinetics diploma at Capilano University and was the start of my scholarly journey. After two years at Capilano University, I transferred into the 3rd year of the Bachelor of Kinesiology program at the University of British Columbia. During my time at UBC I had the opportunity to intern as an Athletic Therapist with some of the varsity teams. This is where my passion for healthcare started. When I graduated in 2014 I did not know in exactly what field of healthcare I wanted to work in. I also realized that on my current trajectory, I lacked creative stimulation. I took a few years off, worked in restaurants and as a Physiotherapist’s assistant, and tried to figure out how I would integrate my desire to work in healthcare with my need for creative stimulation. Then I came across the postgraduate Prosthetics & Orthotics program at BCIT. The program is very competitive (they accept 12 students from Western Canada every two years) but I knew that it was exactly the kind of education I was looking for. I applied, got accepted, and have not looked back since. Over two years, I learned how to build custom-made devices for patients with a variety of healthcare issues. I got to work with plaster (basically making plaster replicas of people’s limbs), with plastic (molding the devices onto the plaster cast) and a bunch of other hand work type-skills. And the best part of all? I got to work with people and learned how to positively impact their lives.

VWS: What kind of work/study are you involved in now?
SF: My career has taken a slightly unconventional path, largely influenced by the pandemic. I currently live just south of Munich, Germany, and work in the clinical evidence department of a large P & O (Prosthetics & Orthotics ) company. I am in the process of completing my master’s in Rehabilitation Science and will be submitting my thesis on the topic of virtual reality and phantom limb pain treatment next April. I am working my way up to a Clinical Project Manager position which would allow me to organize studies and oversee the development of new products at my company. To supplement my healthcare work, I have taken up digital illustration and hope to publish my P & inspired drawings in 2022.

VWS: What advice would you give to this year’s upcoming graduates? Do you have any advice or encouragement to GS students considering HS options?
SF: Maybe this is no longer the case, but when I was in high school, many students were intimidated by a university education in sciences as they felt unprepared compared to their public school counterparts. I would not let it stop you. My writing skills were much higher than my counterparts. (I attribute this largely to all the practice we got with the Main Lesson book write ups and the Grade 12 project).

VWS: Do you have any advice to parents considering VWS or other HS options?
SF: My only advice would be to ask your child what they feel would be best for them. I considered switching to the public system but did not because I felt that a Waldorf education would encourage me to see the world differently. And I was right. My experience is that Waldorf graduates have higher levels of critical thinking and are more confident in their place in this world.

VWS: What are your fondest memories of VWS?
SF: Being a part of the sports teams, Fall trips, and the stinky blue watercolour paint!

VWS: How did Waldorf education affect your life & career choice?
SF: I feel that Waldorf instilled in me an appreciation for being creative and expressing myself through a variety of avenues. This led me to choose education and jobs that aligned with my desire to work in a scientific realm but also challenged me creatively. Being challenged to write a long thesis and go through the cognitive and creative process associated with that offered me a great foundation to write university papers.

Interview by Ronaye Ireland, for Development, November 2021

Editor’s Note: High School has been preparing and helping students with post-secondary applications and scholarships for many years. Financial literacy is taught in every grade (9-12) in Career and Education classes every year as well as in Math 11. Science classes have been expanded: grade 12’s graduate with full credits that align with the public school system.

Silvia Formankova
Silvia FormankovaClass of 2009

The Vancouver Waldorf School provides an experiential, age-appropriate approach to education based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner that inspires students to love learning, to be creative, open-minded, and compassionate. With a curriculum that integrates all academics with the arts and social learning, Waldorf Education develops not only the left and right hemispheres of the brain but the whole human being. A child’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development is considered equally, supporting a conscious unfolding of the individuality within each student. Waldorf graduates possess capacities for empathy and clear, creative and independent thinking that enables them to carry out a chosen course of action with moral courage and social responsibility.