Valedictorian Megan Duffy

Looking back on her time at Mount Royal University, Megan Duffy is surprised where she has ended up.

"Considering how my academic career started out, I can hardly believe that I ended up with a Bachelor of Arts degree, never mind that I'm Valedictorian," says Duffy.

Bachelor of Arts - Psychology graduate Megan Duffy.

Duffy took the post-secondary route right out of high school, but she decided to leave after the first year of her studies to reassess what she wanted out of life.

"Considering the path I took to get here, I certainly didn't make it easy on myself."

Returning to school

Coming to Mount Royal to pursue a Social Work Diploma after a four-year hiatus from post-secondary, Duffy lacked confidence when she re-entered the classroom.

"I think I was in Academic Advising or the Counseling office at least once a week for my entire first year at Mount Royal," Duffy says.

"I got a huge amount of support from faculty and staff - the environment and community at this school are the big reasons why I stayed in class," says Duffy.

"They picked me out, played on my strengths and helped me with my weaknesses, getting me past that first year and helping me to start feeling like I knew what I was doing."

Near the end of her second year in the Social Work Diploma program, a chance conversation with Associate Professor Nancy Ogden about the Bachelor of Arts - Psychology program changed the course of Duffy's academic career.

"Nancy took the time to sit me down and explain the BA - Psychology program. She showed me the courses I needed to take and what I needed to do in order to transfer into the program," Duffy says. "By the time we were finished, I had completely changed my plans."

A positive change in direction

Joining the BA stream after two years in Social Work, she quickly began to thrive, engaging in research, contributing to publications and even presenting at conferences.

Through research opportunities, Duffy was able to focus on working with children in elementary school, where she studied attachment and socialization - Duffy also worked on a research project that focused on the psychology of sarcasm.

Going forward, Duffy hopes to continue to work with at-risk children.

"In my classes at Mount Royal, I didn't just learn about the topic of study - I learned how to learn," says Duffy. "Developing critical thinking and the commitment to continually learn and grow might be even more important than my degree.

"Many people wrapping up their degrees might see the end of their undergrad as the end of the story, but it's just the beginning of the next chapter. I'm really looking forward to seeing what's next for me and my graduating class."

- Colin Brandt, June 6, 2013