Embrace challenges and practice excellence
More than 20 years after her scientific mission to space on the Space Shuttle Discovery, famed Canadian astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar landed at Michener’s convocation ceremony on June 27 to deliver the keynote address to the Class of 2015. The first neurologist in space, Dr. Bondar’s contributions to science and medicine are an inspiration to a generation of health care professionals embarking on their own journeys.
She shared her credos with graduates – ideas that she lives by and encourages Michener’s graduates to adopt. These include agility and lifelong learning; being bold and ethical; embracing curiosity; being committed to discovery and practicing excellence.
“You are optimal in excellence in your field, otherwise you wouldn’t be here today,” she told graduates. “Think about yourselves as people who will bring transformative thinking to the whole of society. Our health care system depends on your excellence.”
For Dr. Bondar, this transformative thinking means embracing challenges and bringing about positive change. Her distinguished career is marked by this unwavering commitment to lifelong learning and curiosity.
“Curiosity gives us the opportunity to give ourselves challenges,” she said. “If we’re curious about something, it presents us with opportunities to change ourselves and our professions.”
“But it’s transformative only for the moment,” she adds. “The future relies on people who are contemporary in their education. They’ll redefine things as they go forward.”
“We’re in a profession where everything we do can make a huge positive difference,” she said to graduates. “If we do it wrong, it can make a huge negative difference. To take risks, we need to know the consequences.”
For Dr. Bondar, this means having an acute sense of not only risk, but also ethics. She spoke about how this has manifested itself in her decision-making throughout her career, explaining that in her own life, she is constantly balancing risk as a way to be bold and go forward.
“I think of my life and the kinds of thing I’ve done, and it really prepares me for whatever moment I’m in now,” she said. “I’ve really stood by this notion of being agile.”
“I want to use this platform to tell you this honestly,” Dr. Bondar added. “It doesn’t matter what you learn, it will come in handy. It will help you with your thinking abilities. Lifelong learning is something that I want you to practice for the rest of your lives.”
Dr. Bondar ended her talk on the subject of excellence. “Excellence is about graduating today and having the name Michener attached to you,” she said. “You want that word to be the ethical standard; to be the highest standard in your profession. You want to be proud of what you have taken away from Michener. You want to be proud of the people who have come before you and come after you. You want to participate in the goodness of what you have learned. You want to keep that level of excellence the way it is today.”