Like many first year students, Health Science student, Michael Vasili Richardson, who has been chosen as the 2011-2012 Valedictorian, was nervous and didn’t know what to expect when he arrived at Vanier two years ago. “There were students I’d never seen before and teachers whose names I couldn’t pronounce,” he says. “Then my teacher asked us all to introduce ourselves and suddenly I realized that I was not the only one who was nervous about starting a new chapter in my life.”
Growing as a student and a person
Michael’s fears were soon allayed as he plunged into Cegep life. “Since that first Monday morning, Vanier has allowed me to develop not only as a student but as a person as well.” One of the touchstones of college life is friendship, and at Vanier, Michael has made new friends, not only among his fellow Health Science students who constitute a sort of family but also with students from other programs.
Days to remember
“No matter what time of day it was we all knew there would be someone in the science lounge, probably trying to catch up on missed sleep, or friends in Jake’s Mall sharing weekend stories over a cup of Starbucks coffee,” he explains. During his years at Vanier, the sense of camaraderie and of shared concerns and worries bonded students together as they talked about their lives, about upcoming exams, or about nothing. “I’d forgotten what it felt like to talk about nothing,” says Michael. “Leaving high school, I thought I’d never have the privilege of belonging to a large family again. But now as I leave Vanier, I’m glad to say I could not have been more wrong.”
Michael has always been involved in community activities and, in spite of the demands of his science program, he continued his extracurricular activities off campus. “I help organize regional and province-wide swimming competitions for young children, senior citizens, and people struggling with a physical or mental disability. I also continue to be involved with the ‘Hearts and Souls Committee’, an initiative I started in high school which promotes individuality and stimulates leadership among young people through community involvement.” Among other projects, the committee inspired high school students to raise $1200 for World Vision and UNICEF to purchase farm animals, tools and toys for people in developing countries. More recently the committee raised over $60,000 in bursaries and was honored with the Provincial Award for the Quebec Entrepreneurship Contest.
True to his Greek roots
In addition to his community activities, Michael whose mother is Greek, also attended Greek school on Saturdays and has always participated in cultural festivities including the annual Greek Independence Day parade and La flamme Hélénique summer festival.
A very deserving student
Michael’s nominator, Ivan Ivanov of the Mathematics Department, was very impressed with him. “I am thrilled for Michael; he is a very deserving Valedictorian. I had the privilege of having him in two classes this year and I can’t remember another student who has been closer to the ideal of a witty and debonair gentleman than Michael. I would like to shake the hands of his parents for raising such a quality son.”
Next year, Michael will be studying Finance at Concordia University.