Some graduands struggle to sleep the night before Convocation as adrenaline flows, butterflies flutter and ideas run.
Having previously spent nine months serving as a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan, Convocation jitters are one battle Steven Leschert didn’t struggle with.
“Sleeping in a war zone is a thing of art,” says Leschert, who is graduating from Mount
Royal University’s Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT) certificate program.
“Any soldier will tell you that there is always stress while trying to sleep.”
Leschert’s journey from his hometown of Whitehorse, Yukon, to Mount Royal’s Convocation stage has been a non-stop quest for self-improvement.
Growing up, he fell in love with volleyball and pushed himself to the Yukon’s highest level, playing three years on the provincial team. After high school he studied sciences at the University of Victoria before deciding he wanted to experience more.
“I really wanted to see what I was made of,” says Leschert, explaining his jump to the military.
In 2008 Leschert arrived in Kandahar, Afghanistan, under a blazing 40C sun, wearing 110 lbs. of gear.
He worked 12-hour shifts, searching for insurgents in one of the most dangerous regions in the world. Every day he risked his life. Leschert lost 13 members of his battle group, including close friend Master Cpl. Joshua Roberts.
Exercise became a way to fill downtime and a positive outlet for anxiety, frustration and grief.
“I have always found exercise to be a great stress reliever and so, naturally, I continued to hit the gym to vent my anger and frustration over not only the loss of Josh, but all the stresses that go along with living in a war zone.
“If I didn’t have access to a gym, a friend and I would improvise workouts with boulders, diesel cans and whatever else we could find.”
After completing his tour, an extremely fit Leschert wound up in Calgary. That’s when his itch for self-improvement — along with some encouragement from his girlfriend — pushed him in another direction. He registered for Mount Royal’s PFT program.
“Fitness has become such a big part of my life. The PFT program really put me in a position to share that passion with others and help them improve their lives in a way that’s also profitable for me.”
“As for my career goals, I’m still open to new changes in life, and am thinking about applying for the fire department, while continuing personal training on the side.”
— Steven Noble