This Year's Ceremony

Cool grads

Maeghan Smulders

From matching pink pencil case sets to presenting papers in Sweden, Bachelor of Business Administration General Management graduate Maeghan Smulders has come a long way, as a student and as a person.

Maeghan Smulders“I remember so many details of my first day: I showed up to my first class 45 minutes early, which is not acceptable,” recalls Smulders candidly.

“I had a matching pencil case and backpack and binder, which I found out is not socially acceptable, and I sat in the front row and nodded excessively at everything the professor said, which is also not normal student behaviour. As I get ready to graduate, I can see the difference between that person and the person I’ve become.”

On the heels of returning from a national Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) competition in Toronto where she was awarded a prestigious HSBC Leadership Award in front of 800 people, Smulders is preparing to be the youngest person to attend and present at a major academic conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

Then, she’s looking forward to writing a book before perhaps pursuing graduate studies and starting her own business. All that’s in lieu of eight job offers she’s had leading up to Convocation.

As Smulders recalls her first year — when she received her third straight F on a term paper — she shakes her head.

“I remember crying and saying, ‘I am clearly not ready for this, I’m dropping out. I’m not coming back.’ And a professor pulled me aside and said to me, ‘You’re meant to be here, you can do this, let’s figure out how.’ ”

Smulders stayed in school and found a way to pass her classes.

“Over those first two years, even though there were struggles, I grew so much. Then I reached the point where I figured out what works best for me. I wouldn’t have, though, without the support of that professor.” Smulders says that sums up what Mount Royal is all about.

“When you have a school that believes in you and sees your potential, it opens up a world of possibility — a world I’d never have been introduced to if I hadn’t come to Mount Royal.”

— Steven Noble

Diyon Van Nistelrooy

Diyon Van Nistelrooy is a champion — both on and off the court. The captain of the Mount Royal Cougars volleyball team will be graduating today with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in English.Diyon Van Nistelrooy

Van Nistelrooy began studying and playing at Mount Royal in 2005 when she earned a Business Diploma from the Bissett School of Business. Afterwards, Van Nistelrooy took a year off from academics but stayed involved with the team as an assistant coach.

“I had such a good experience with the Cougars program, it motivated me to help out, not to mention the coaching aspect made me a better player,” says Van Nistelrooy.

She returned to Mount Royal two years ago to complete her studies, this time working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree.

“I love the atmosphere at Mount Royal. I like the small class sizes and the fact that people recognize one another by name in the halls,” says Van Nistelrooy.

“I could have played and studied elsewhere but this was definitely the best fit.”

Earlier this year, Van Nistelrooy was a key member of Mount Royal’s first-ever Canadian women’s volleyball championship team. However, it is her work off the court that has impressed her teammates and coaches the most.

“Diyon’s dedication to athletics, community service and academics have enabled her to develop into a mature, well-rounded young woman who acts as a positive role model for her team, her school and her community,” says Mount Royal women’s volleyball coach Sandra Lamb.

Van Nistelrooy was involved in two Cougar Athletics community outreach programs: Cougars on the Court and C is for Cougars. Both programs engage elementary school students, encouraging education and activity.

“In Cougars on the Court, Grades Oneto Six come to the gym and we just set up a volleyball net and teach them some of the basics,” says Van Nistelrooy.

C is for Cougars involves student-athletes engaging students in the classroom by reading them stories. Experiencing both programs will prove valuable to Van Nistelrooy, who has aspirations of becoming a teacher. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in education and return to the classroom as a mentor.

— Fred Cheney