UVic engineering student earns a trio of top academic medals
An engineering student with a penchant for mountain biking can count himself as one of the University of Victoria’s top graduates of 2008.
Aaron Kaspar lives in Whistler and spends much of his time pedalling along alpine trails. But he is also contemplating his career options after piling up an array of accolades in his time at the Gordon Head campus.
During UVic convocation ceremonies this week, Kaspar will have the honour of hearing his name called for three top academic medals. The 23-yearold from Fort St. John will be receiving the Governor General’s Silver Medal as the top overall undergraduate, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Victoria Section Gold Medal for software engineering and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. Gold Medal for the top marks among graduating bachelor of engineering and bachelor of software engineering students.
Spending a summer laying low in Whistler — and scooting around on his Cannondale — will be a great way to get recharged, Kaspar said.
“It’s the first time in five years or so that I’ve actually had time off to do whatever I want. It’s been really good so far.”
The recognition has taken him by surprise, Kaspar said. “I always try to do my best in studies. I secretly hoped that something like this would happen, but I didn’t actually think that it would.”
The leader among graduate students is Erik Kjeang, who came to UVic from Sweden to complete a PhD in mechanical engineering. The fuel-cell specialist has earned the Governor General’s Gold Medal for the top grade-point average among graduate students and the best dissertation or thesis. Other graduates of note:
Jubilee Medal for social sciences: Adam Cota, psychology. A former member of the national rowing team, Cota is now enrolled in the Island Medical Program, looking to specialize in orthopedics.
Jubilee Medal for the humanities: Kathleen Gaudet, Italian/linguistics. A Grade 12 year spent in Italy helped create a desire to study the language for this Victoria native. She will be pursing a doctorate at the University of Toronto.
Law Society of B.C. Gold Medal: Meagen Lang. She will be clerking with the B.C. Court of Appeal this summer before taking an articling position with a Vancouver law firm in the fall.
Faculty of Education Maxwell Cameron Award, Secondary Education: Michelle Couture. Now a French-immersion teacher, Couture said it is wonderful to be receiving an award for doing what she loves.
In all, 3,111 students will be conferred with degrees, diplomas and certificates from today through Friday. They will be accommodated at eight separate convocation ceremonies in the UVic Centre’s Farquhar Auditorium.
There will also be honorary degrees presented to four people who have displayed a special commitment to public service. Eliza Chan, Ian D. Clark and Rajesh Tandon will receive honorary doctorates of law, and Dr. Donald B. Rix will receive an honorary doctorate of science.
Chan is a 1988 UVic law graduate and a past winner of the UVic Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Her record of public service while practising as a lawyer in Hong Kong and China has already earned her considerable recognition.
Clark is a former Rhodes Scholar for B.C. who has had a distinguished career in the federal civil service, including a position as Canada’s executive director to the International Monetary Fund.
Rix is a medical doctor and a pioneering “venture philanthropist” who founded MDS Metro Laboratory Services (now LifeLabs), while Tandon is a leader in developing measures to help grassroots agencies meet the needs of the poor in his native India and around the world.
UVic also holds a a fall convocation that is about one-third the size of the spring event.