Grace Butler, Business, Class of 2019 Valedictorian
Why did you decide to study at Acadia?
The truth is, for a long time it was dream to study at St.Fx because that is where my best friend was going to school. I was a year younger than her, so I always envisioned myself going off with her. Then during my senior year in high school I went on university tours, one of which included Acadia. Although I went in the dead of winter, I had a wonderful experience. Three professors stopped to speak with me on the street to talk about me, why I was here and what I wanted to do. I met with Dr. Ian Hutchinson, the Dean of Business at the time, who stopped everything in his day to sit and talk with me for 30 minutes about the school and its charm. Before I left for the day I took a walk through main street to look at the shops. I saw people waving through restaurant windows, from cars, from across the street. Everyone knew each other, it was like large family. And that’s all it took, that one afternoon. I knew that I wanted to be a part of something like that. Where people cared and stopped to smile and say hello. As soon as I got home I sent in my acceptance and have been smiling ever since.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your “first-year of university” self?
I would tell myself that it’s good to work hard, but also that you need to put yourself out there more. Grades are important, but so is your mental health and your relationships with others. I was kind of a book worm when I started at Acadia (still am to a certain extent), and I was very afraid of falling behind, getting poor marks and failing. So I focused too much on school, and while my GPA was amazing, my health wasn’t the greatest and I’m afraid there were a few experiences that I missed out on because of this focus. So I would tell myself to try my hardest, from a school perspective and from a mental health/social perspective. I would tell myself to make more time for people, as well as myself, and to aim for the ultimate balance. If I had learned this a lot earlier I’m sure I would have been a bit happier and a whole lot less stressed!
What will you miss the most about Acadia?
I think I’ll miss how warm and friendly the campus is. Because it is so small, you get to know everyone so you make friends from all different backgrounds. It’s very much like a small community where everyone supports one another. I don’t think you’ll have an easy time finding that somewhere else. I’ll also miss the valley a lot. It’s so beautiful during every season (even during the worst of the winter) and there’s so much going on that you can never get bored. I’ll miss picking apples in the fall and going to the Christmas craft fair in the winter. I’ll miss going out with my friends on the weekend when it’s warm enough to not wear a coat and when you need to trudge through snow. It’s these little things that make up my experience here, and I’ll miss them all.
What is the most memorable moment you experienced at Acadia?
One of my most memorable moments at Acadia was when one of my good friends convinced me to join his team for a business case competition when I was in my second year. We had twelve hours to do the case, so we nearly stayed up all night in Patterson to work on it. I wasn’t sure if I was smart enough to be on the team or if anything that I had to contribute was valuable to the group, but it was exciting to be a part of something. I remember being so nervous presenting to a panel of judges for the first time, especially since they were real business people and not professors. It was amazing when we were awarded second place out of the five teams that competed. It was a reminder that I was smart enough to be there and it helped me get over my fear of business cases and presentations. I’ve been competing in case competitions ever since.
Do you have any advice for future Acadia students?
My biggest tip is to get involved as soon as you can, even if it’s only one thing per semester. You won’t believe how much of an impact it will have on your experience here. You will meet so many amazing people, you’ll learn so much and you actually develop real life skills. SMILE is something everyone should get involved in. It is by far the most fun and rewarding thing I have ever done and I am so sad that I don’t get to continue it. I know it may seem scary or intimidating to jump into something in your first year, but everyone is just so welcoming and happy to have you there that it won’t matter. It’s through these experiences and the friends that you make along the way that will stick out in your memory of this place and they are well worth the time and effort, trust me!
What are your plans post-graduation?
After graduation I will be moving to Halifax to study law at Dalhousie University. Although I am trying to keep my options open, I hope to focus on criminal law and crimes of sexual violence. Dalhousie has excellent criminal law clinics, and there even some professors who focus specifically on sexual violence as well. At this point I aspire to be a Crown Prosecutor and eventually a judge, but I am open to the fact that there are so many interesting sectors of law out there that something may catch my eye along the way! Nevertheless, I am very excited for what the future holds.
Grace will deliver her Valedictorian speech during this year's Convocation ceremony. Congratulations Grace!