“Wow, you talk a lot now”

Spring 2015

Anna Henley

Schulich Leader at McGill University

From the mouths of babes, eh? Compliments of my younger (definitely no longer little) brother, this quote really encapsulates my year at McGill University. My first year away from home, in a class of (MUCH) more than twenty eight people has been a wild ride to say the least, and I have grown in more ways than I ever could have predicted. First there was rowing tryouts and frosh week-simultaneously which was, at the very least, a crash course in time management. But I made it both on to the team and to Beach Day, so all was well. And then came the bombshell: broken leg. Living in a residence halfway up Mount Royal. With no car, no mom, and friends I had just met (who, to my eternal gratitude, more than rose to the occasion! A piggyback ride out to dinner is more than anybody could have hoped for.) And through all this, classes. Engineering classes that were bigger, harder, and faster-paced than anything I’d ever been exposed to. Accidentally registering for a 300-level Poli-Sci elective, however, proved to be the least of my worries because I also had to take Linear Algebra. A notoriously difficult course that became the bane of my existence, but which also taught me to work hard and work long. I made it through, and it made the infamous Calculus II in the winter semester seem far easier! (Finally, some real Math!) All told, McGill academics was a wakeup call, but reinforced my faith that dedicated work always pays off in the long run, even if your design project only survives a six foot drop instead of an eight foot one.

Outside of school and rowing I was VP Communications of McGill Inter-Residence Council, which has been one of my most gratifying experiences to date. In addition to introducing me to a whole host of fascinating and endlessly inspiring people, I learned to stop counting myself out because I am “only 18” or “only a first year.” We played it safe for the first few weeks, but ended up hosting some crazy ambitious events. Our final “Tastes Of Montreal” event involved contacting local institutions like Schwartz’s to negotiate with rather intimidating owners, in french. Scary, to say the least. Thankfully it all paid off, resulting in a fantastic event populated with happy faces and full bellies. To put the cherry on top of an unforgettable experience, I was named Council MVP-shocking and humbling considering some of the powerhouses of initiative and coolness also on Council. We had a few future Prime Ministers, I’m sure of it. This inspiration and feeling of gratification is something I will always carry with me, in addition to the invaluable leadership and diplomacy skills I gained as VP Comms. My self-confidence and networking skills were further strengthened as the only first year delegate sent to the 2014 National Conference on Women in Engineering, which gave me a tantalizing taste of industry and the possibilities of my chosen career.

And on top of everything, I’ve made unbelievably awesome friends-there simply aren’t enough superlatives to express my love. We come from all over the world, from every possible background, and we fit together so perfectly. It has truly been a lesson that everyone has a story worth listening to; some of my closest friends are people I never would have dreamed of meeting. The resulting late-night conversations (that often became early-morning conversations) are some of my fondest memories of this year.

I have written way too much so I’ll cut it off here, but I could go on for hours! This year has been the craziest and most fun of my life and I am so excited to do it all again, starting with leading Engineering Frosh in September! In the meantime, I’ll be trading in my textbooks for steel toes as an Engineering intern here in St. John’s, an exciting opportunity to test out my fledgling skills for which I am incredible grateful.