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USask biomedical sciences student Aidan Hydomako will be receiving the University Medal in the Bachelor of Science Biomedical Sciences Degree at the USask Spring Convocation. (Photo by Kristen McEwen)

Broken leg, inspiring educators lead USask student to path in medicine

Aidan Hydomako to receive most outstanding graduate recognition, prestigious convocation prize in biomedical sciences

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By Kristen McEwen

University of Saskatchewan (USask) student Aidan Hydomako’s interest in biomedical sciences started when he broke his leg.

Hydomako grew up playing hockey in Saskatoon and had dreams about making it as a professional athlete in the National Hockey League (NHL).

In Grade 9, he was playing lacrosse when he broke his leg just below his knee. His recovery included major surgery and months of rehabilitation.

“I started to get a little bit interested in how the human body works—how things go wrong,” Hydomako said. “I really looked up to a lot of the healthcare providers I worked with.”

His interest in health studies was encouraged through his high school teacher, who taught units about major human body systems. His teacher presented and explained information in an intuitive way that made it easier to understand the concepts she was presenting.

“I found that really exciting and I really enjoyed studying for that class,” he said. “Up to that point, I wasn’t really a super academic person.”

Hydomako will be receiving his Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences (Honours) from the College of Arts and Science during the USask Spring Convocation on June 4. He is the Most Outstanding Graduate in Cellular, Physiological and Pharmacological Sciences and will also be receiving the University Medal in the Bachelor of Science Biomedical Sciences Degree.

The combination of experiencing the rehabilitation process and studying human body systems pointed Hydomako towards studying biomedical sciences.

When he started classes at USask, he decided to major in Cellular, Physiological and Pharmacological Sciences (CPPS).

“When it comes to the courses I’ve taken, I've always been able to find a reason to find some personal reason why I find it interesting,” Hydomako said.

One of the challenges he faced was finding a balance between university and maintaining a social life.

“It’s pretty easy for me to have the discipline and time to excel at school because it’s something I find really rewarding. It can be difficult for me to sacrifice ... that time when I feel like I could be doing more.”

When attending USask during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hydomako found himself at home working in the furnace room. With his parents working from home, his younger brother going to elementary school online, and his older sister also attending university, the only studying space Hydomako found was in the basement.

“It was very minimal interaction,” he said. “It was tough. I had to develop a lot of discipline with making sure I was studying between 9 am and 5 pm and I’m going to hold myself to that.”

When classes resumed in person, Hydomako maintained some of that discipline to keep his study schedule on track. However, he made time to hang out with friends. For three years, he participated in a USask recreational Co-Ed dodgeball team.

“I was really blessed over the last four years to come into a really great group of friends that ... they’ll tell me, ‘OK, you need to get away from your laptop,” he said. 

Hydomako said one of the highlights of his degree was starting an honours project with his supervisor Dr. Scott Widenmaier (PhD), an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology in the College of Medicine.

His honours project focused on how inflammation impacts metabolism, liver cells—hepatocytes—and in turn affects the funneling of fats and cholesterol throughout the body.

“It’s one thing to learn about something in class, but when you’re applying what you’ve learned and doing stuff with your own hands and coming up with your own ideas,” Hydomako said.

“Research allows you to hone your critical thinking skills, which complemented the things I was learning in my degree,” he added. “It gives you an opportunity to be creative.”

Over three years, his research was also supported by two NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards and three Biomedical Summer Research Project Awards from the College of Medicine.

He also had the opportunity to be a structured study session peer mentor and helped facilitate 80-minute study sessions for students in 100-level biology classes.

“Learning is something that I feel really passionate about and I get a lot of gratification out of studying biology and understanding it,” he said. “I got to share that with other students through teaching, which was really awesome.”

Hydomako will be attending medical school at the College of Medicine in the fall. As he prepares, he had advice for students with similar interests in biomedical sciences.

“Try to develop a sense of intuition— (think about) how everything works rather than just solely relying on memorization,” he said. “It’s a lot more enjoyable and gratifying, and it’s a lot more effective.”

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