Oliver secures a G-G

Oliver Simmonds has been awarded the 2012 Governor General’s Academic Medal. - Photo submitted
Oliver Simmonds has been awarded the 2012 Governor General’s Academic Medal.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Highland Secondary School 2012 grad Oliver Simmonds received a boost to his spirits just before he went off to Alberta to continue his schooling.

He was awarded the 2012 Governor General’s Academic Medal for Highland Secondary School, and he feels pretty good about the honour.

“I’m pretty proud of myself,” said Simmonds, adding he found out in late August. “I was ecstatic — that’s the best way to explain it. I was jumping up and down a little bit to be honest.”

Simmonds recalled his reaction as he stood in his dorm room at the University of Alberta, where he’s taking his first year of chemical engineering, a direction he chose earlier in high school.

“I found around Grade 10 or 11 that chemistry was something that I really liked so I decided that I would focus on chemical engineering,” he said. “It had the prestige, I guess, and the ability to affect the environment around me more in the work place. And I found that it would be something that I could strive towards and have a goal and hopefully succeed in.”

Simmonds hopes to get into the co-op program at the university, which would mean five years of school before he finishes his degree, but it would also mean work experience, which is important to the 18-year-old student.

“I’m hoping to get some extra money from that to help pay for schooling and get some work experience, and then hopefully move on from there with a career,” he said, adding he’s not quite sure which career path he wants to take yet. “I’m hoping to do something that’s environmentally friendly, other than that, I’m not 100 per cent sure yet because there’s so many options. I haven’t found the one that I want.”

He later added he may focus on materials production or oil sands work.

Simmonds also won Highland’s top overall academic student award each year during his final three years of secondary school.

Besides courses like chemistry, physics and math, Simmonds also enjoys history because he’s “inspired to learn more about the past.”

Simmonds noted he’s quite focused on his studies, but he practises karate — he’s been doing the martial art for 10 years and has had a black belt for five of those.

He also likes spending time with friends and playing video games is his “guilty pleasure.”

After about a month at university, Simmonds has a bit of advice for current high school students.

“Don’t take high school lightly, please. It’s really hard here; you don’t expect the work that you get if you do well at high school,” he said, adding between class and homework he spends 50 hours per week doing school work. “It wasn’t that high school was easy, it’s just that high school, it’s nothing compared to the workload that you’re going to get here.”

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