Trent opens its doors

Peterborough Examiner
Mon 10 Mar 2008

Deciding which university or college to attend can be one of the toughest decisions prospective students must make. That one choice has a profound effect on the direction of their lives, and who better to help them make that decision than world-famous astronaut Roberta Bondar.

The pioneering Canadian icon, and Trent University Chancellor, delivered the welcoming address to a sizable crowd - despite brutal weather – of prospective students at the Trent March break open house in Wenjack Theatre Saturday morning.

"We never really know ourselves entirely unless we make ourselves face challenges," Bondar said.

And few understand facing challenges like Bondar who is the first Canadian woman astronaut, an author and award-winning landscape photographer.

"None of us know where the path of life is taking us," she told the crowd. But university offers students a whole world of possibilities, Bondar said. "You should never shut doors unless you really need to, and you should open as many as possible," she said after telling the prospective students that she had planned on being a science teacher when she started university.

"And look at me now," Bondar said. When at university look at the other things that interest you to broaden your experience, she urged students. "Our global environment really speaks to diversity and flexibility," Bondar said.

"In every decision you make, be sure it's one that you can move very easily from course to course," she said. The decisions could surround your personal life, other subjects, or a total change in direction, Bondar said. "Pick a place that will allow you that flexibility," Bondar said.

A diversity in background, education and life experiences often times is what sets you apart from others, she told the crowd.

"What will position you best in life is the best and diverse formal education you can get in an institution that will nourish that curiosity and enthusiasm we all need in our lives," Bondar said. "And you start off at Trent with a good support system," she said.

Bondar's message really hit home with 17-year-old Guelph native Yvonne Ruest who was touring Trent with her mother.

"She was very enthusiastic about her life and about taking chances," Ruest said. "It's very inspiring. She started out wanting to be a teacher and she's gone so far."

The opening address by Bondar was only the beginning of open house activities Saturday.

At the academic and student services, clubs and groups fair at Otonabee College, prospective students had the chance to mingle with Trent students and faculty.

"I really like actually talking to the students," said Peterborough resident Brie Taylor, 17.

Getting first-hand information from students is very helpful, she said. "The student tours are specialized and because they are only one year older than me I can really relate to them." Taylor, who wants to study education and psychology, is still up in the air about what university she wants to attend.

But maybe some parting words from Bondar will help Taylor and hundreds of soon-to-be university students make this important choice.

"This is a grand opportunity to expand our minds and to make a difference in the world," Bondar said closing out her opening address.

"Diversity and flexibility are key to being able to adapt quickly in our culture," she said.