Dean Peta Bonham-Smith (David Stobbe)
Dean Peta Bonham-Smith (David Stobbe)

A message from the dean

You can get there from here

FOR CENTURIES, WRITERS have commented on the power of travel to open our minds. Author Mark Twain famously said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” Travel abroad, or even outside one’s community, helps us see the world and our own lives from a fresh perspective. It can lead to new ideas, new careers and even, recent studies say, a more creative brain.

We at the College of Arts & Science like to say that wherever you want to go, you can get there from here. Through our support of international exchanges, collaborative research and study abroad, this road goes both ways. Our university not only sends talented students and faculty around the world, but also welcomes many people who get here from there. In fact, I am one of those people.

I grew up in North East England in the small town of Peterlee. I was drawn to science at an early age through an interest in birds. I was also interested in soccer, but that was never going to be a career. However, playing sports gave me the confidence to look beyond my hometown to Wolverhampton Polytechnic, in the midlands of England, where I could read all the books and do all the science I could have imagined.

That original excitement for science led me across the ocean to the University of Calgary, where I completed my PhD in plant physiology. To this day, the realization that none of us would be here without plants fuels my passion for understanding how plants grow, how they function, how they produce seed and how we feed the world through them. Today, I am a plant biologist using molecular, cellular, biochemical and physiological tools to discover how plants work. I am also proud to be the dean of the College of Arts & Science. I did get here from there.

This global issue of Arts&Science is filled with stories of alumni who connected with our college along their individual paths to success. Haidah Amirzadeh fled an untenable life under a repressive regime in Iran to arrive in Saskatchewan on a cold winter day. She now helps others pursue their dreams of a better life as a successful immigration and refugee lawyer. Jennifer Welsh’s road led her from Regina to a career in international relations that has included acting as an advisor to the United Nations. Student Aisha Oredegbe travelled from Nigeria to Saskatchewan and back again to find herself.

Your own path as a graduate of our college may have taken you around the world or just down the road. Either way, remember that as alumni, you can continue to have a profound impact on our college. So get in touch and let us know where you have landed. Drop by when you can. You will always be warmly welcomed. Wherever you are in the world, I hope your time in the College of Arts & Science made your horizons greater.

Share this story