Governor General Silver Medalist: Heather Lemon
Every student knows that hard work and discipline are part of the learning process. This is especially true for those who commit to a university program while holding down a full-time job and family responsibilities.
When Heather Lemon was considering where to apply for a bachelor degree, she says Royal Roads offered her the best option through the Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies program.
“As an adult, I realized how much more I enjoyed being at school,” says Lemon. “The courses were something that I’m interested in rather than obligated to take.”
That enthusiasm for her studies is reflected in Lemon’s academic accomplishments. At Fall Convocation Nov. 9, Royal Roads will confer four awards on the Justice Studies graduate: the Governor General’s Silver Medal, Chancellor’s Award, President’s Scholar Award and Founders’ Award.
“I wanted to push myself to graduate with honours,” she says. “It’s nice to know the long nights and hard work paid off.”
Kathleen Manion, Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies program head, says Heather wove together elements of the program and came out with practical and useable tools. “She demonstrated leadership ability in the cohort by stepping outside of her comfort zone, being open to different perspectives, and standing up for social justice.”
Even though Lemon excelled in her program, she admits the workload could be overwhelming at times. When reflecting on her need to get organized during the first residency, she had an epiphany.
“We were given a book on mindfulness,” says Lemon. “It sounded bizarre at the time, but I learned that you need ways to take care of yourself. It’s interesting to see how the program coordinators and instructors anticipate what you need and equip you.”
“For some people, talking about mindfulness may seem a bit fuzzy and woowoo,” says Manion. “But from the start, we push self-care, self-reflection and how to focus the mind and stay present, so as not to get ground into conflict.”
Lemon credits her final research project as being one of her best Royal Roads memories. Working with partner Melissa Johnson, they produced a one-hour documentary film on prevention strategies for protecting youth from online bullying and cyber predators.
“Her professors were blown away by the phenomenal job and high quality of the video,” says Manion. “Both students went above and beyond in integrating theory and practice.”
Lemon’s main reason for completing her bachelor of arts was to open doors for her career. She was able to continue working as a conflict resolution practitioner at a regulatory organization in Calgary while moving toward her academic goals.
“I found it interesting to draw parallels between my studies and career,” says Lemon. “In my course, I was learning about the justice system and could see how my organization aligns with it.”
She’s now reaping the rewards with a promotion to an advisor position at her workplace.
When asked about the possibility of future academic studies, Lemon has woven course teachings on mindfulness and self-care into her daily practice.
“Royal Roads has invigorated my lust for learning,” she says. “But for right now, I need time to recalibrate and return balance to my life.”