A former Carihi grad won one of the most prestigious educational awards in Canada.
Thirty-year-old Dustin Anderson was handed the Governor General’s Gold Medal Award at a doctoral level this past Thursday at the University of Calgary. This same award was given to the likes of Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas and Kim Campbell.
Anderson said he was shocked when he first found out that he won. And while he’s not used to all the attention he’s receiving as he said he’s a bit of a “hermit,” he is proud of his achievement.
“It’s a little uncomfortable, but it’s validating. It’s nice to be validated, everyone likes that,” said Anderson. “That being said, I’m not all that crazy about being recognized everywhere in university and it feels weird.”
While Anderson said he won the award based on overall academic achievement, one project in particular was noted.
He was first author of a scientific publication which found that two ion channels which are critical for cellular electrical function in the brain actually act together when they were thought to act independently. This breakthrough could mean advances in treatments for some neurological and movement disorders.
The discovery was made while Anderson was working on his Phd in neuroscience, which he finished this past June.
Anderson has been in school almost the entire time since he graduated from Carihi in 1999, starting with a BA of applied science and electrical engineering, followed by a BA of science in biochemistry. He then obtained the PhD in neuroscience, and is now enrolled in medical school at the University of Calgary.
However, he said he was not so focussed on his studies when he was a high school student at Carihi.
“I was more focused on, well, being a skateboarder and hanging out with my friends, and just being a kid,” explained Anderson. “I was by no means an excellent student.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I thought I wanted to be a professional skateboarder or something silly, and so I was good at math and physics in high school, and I kind of squeaked into engineering school.”
Anderson said after he got his BA in applied science and electrical engineering he worked as an engineer for about a year and a half, but decided he didn’t enjoy the work as much as the learning, so he went back to school, and got his second BA and then his PhD.
However, Anderson doesn’t want to give the impression that slacking off in high school leads to numerous academic credentials and a Governor General’s Award later in life. Once he entered university, he picked up his game and realized he loved school.
“First and foremost, I love school, I love learning. I mean learning is my favourite thing to do, is to study,” Anderson said.
And even after all that schooling he still isn’t fully decided on his career path.
“I decided that I wanted to be a physician, and right now I’m humming and hawing between two positions, either an anesthesiologist or an emerge doc (emergency doctor),” Anderson explained.
But, while he’s undecided between the two positions, he said he will not take any more schooling after he’s finished the three-year medical school program.
“This really is it in terms of school, I mean there’s not going to be a fifth degree in my future any time soon,” he said with a laugh.